Google faces EU probe into job search tool

The European Commission will seek to determine if Google is giving its own job-listing platform priority over competitors within Google search results.
The European Commission will seek to determine if Google is giving its own job-listing platform priority over competitors within Google search results.PHOTO: REUTERS

A conflict of interest if tech giant is found to be giving its job-listing platform priority

BRUSSELS • The European Commission said it has opened an investigation into Google's job search tool on competition grounds, having identified a conflict of interest.

The move yesterday is the latest in a string of European Union probes into the US tech giant's business practices, which have already led to billions of euros in fines.

The commission will seek to determine if the group is giving its own job-listing platform priority over competitors within Google search results.

A commission spokesman said a "preliminary investigation is ongoing" into the job search tool.

The commission can open a formal procedure if it finds sufficient evidence against Google, which could see it fined a fourth time for what Brussels deems an excessively dominant market position.

Speaking in Berlin on Tuesday, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the issue needed to be addressed on competition grounds. "There's an obvious conflict of interest here, an obvious temptation to adjust the way the platform works, to favour their own services ahead of others," she said.

A similar situation existed in July 2017 when the EU fined the tech giant's "Google Shopping" service €2.42 billion (S$3.7 billion) for using its search engine to favour its own comparison shopping service.

"We're looking right now at whether the same thing may have happened with other parts of Google's business - like the job search business known as Google for Jobs," said Ms Vestager.

A Google spokesman said yesterday: "Since the launch (of Google for Jobs), we've made a number of changes to address feedback in Europe. Finding a job can be tough, so we worked with job providers to create a better experience."

 
 

The commission spokesman, commenting on earlier probes into Google services, said "what the commission has found is that those different specialised services have some things in common - but they also have important differences". She added that "we need to look individually at each" of them.

In July last year, the EU fined Google €4.34 billion for antitrust violations with its Android operating system for smartphones.

And in March, it fined Google €1.49 billion over search-advert restrictions for third-party websites on its AdSense advertising service.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'Google faces EU probe into job search tool'. Print Edition | Subscribe