09:07 GMT20 February 2020
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    Google chief executive Sundar Pichai has been summoned Thursday to meet EU Competition chief Margrethe Vestager to discuss the company’s relationship with the EU amid taxation probes and questions over privacy.

    The meeting between Pichai and Vestager is being held behind closed doors, however, the EU competition chief has several reasons for a showdown with the boss of Google. European lawmakers are urging her to speed up its investigation into why Google offers its Android operating system only in conjunction with other Google services and also why manufacturers allegedly may not pre-install rival products.

    The Commission is also accusing the internet giant of abusing its dominant position by using its search engine to privilege its own sale comparison website, to the detriment of its competitors. 

    It is also investigating other aspects of Google’s behavior regarding the mapping, travel, flight, third party data and advertising businesses, which it believes is a violation of the European regulation regarding the abuse of a dominant position and affects the right of users to access the best search results.

    Privacy Probes

    The Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014 ruled that European citizens can request the removal of links to websites containing inappropriate personal information in search results associated with their names.

    However, the Commission said in a statement:

    "Google has since received over 145 000 requests, relating to almost 500 000 links. Only one in two requests results in a delisting. The others are suspended or refused, in accordance with the criteria set up by Google. The commercial enterprise is therefore assuming the role of a private judge. The criteria, framework and recommendations surrounding the procedure for being forgotten must be laid down by the competent legislative authorities."

    Google is also under investigation in several countries over its tax arrangements, which some say allow the company to move money around its assets to lower its corporation tax liability in many EU states. 

    This week, lawmakers in the UK House of Commons have heavily criticized a deal under which Google agreed to pay just US$181 million in additional corporation tax, covering a ten-year period after a six-year investigation by the tax authority HMRC.

    Members of the UK Parliament Public Accounts Committee early February took evidence from Matt Brittin, President of Google Europe, who admitted that in the last 18 months, UK revenues were US$1.71 billion, that ten percent of its global sales were generated in Britain, but that it showed a profit of only US$153 million.

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    Tags:
    tax evasion, information, regulation, technology, internet, tax, privacy, European Commission, Google, Europe
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