Microsoft's ICOMP strikes again

A Microsoft-backed industry initiative has called on the European Commission to give Google more than just a slap on the wrist when it rules on antitrust allegations.

The Initiative for a Competitive Online Market Place, or ICOMP, is a Microsoft-backed lobbying group which wants to quash Google’s stranglehold on the web. It has just released a paper calling for the powers that be to force Google’s hand in creating a “healthy and competitive market place”.

Google has certainly attracted the consternation of many companies accusing it of abusing its power.

There have been antitrust cases in the US, as well as a number of firms in Europe taking aim at what they think is a power-hungry monopolist. 

The European Commission is mulling over what to do with naughty Google. Meanwhile, ICOMP is very keen to put the case forward for other industry players.

The EC already seems to think that Google has been up to no good, bullying its way to a 95 percent share in the search market, but is deciding how to deal with its dominance. ICOMP wants to convince it that the world needs some fundamental changes.

The paper states: “The scale that Google has derived from its dominance of search and search advertising, as well as from its exclusionary behaviour and acquisition strategy, has led to a situation where it is impossible to compete, leaving no viable alternative to Google.”

It concludes that it’s “not enough” for antitrust regulators merely to put a stop to “Google’s existing anti-competitive practices” – such as unlawful exclusion arrangements or revenue sharing agreements.  

It is within the EC’s powers to fine Google up to 10 percent of its global earnings over antitrust, as Microsoft, also involved in the complaint, has found out. But it is not clear whether ICOMP is pushing for this. 

What ICOMP is lobbying for are “structural and behavioural remedies” to address what it describes as “Google’s illegally obtained scale across online platforms”.

Less Google, basically.

ICOMP wants to knock Google off its perch at the top, and it wants to make sure “years of unlawfully obtained riches” are not used to cement its position. The group also suggests ensuring that its search results are neutral, as well as preventing it from walling off premium content from competitors.

ICOMP contends that the EC should prevent Google from using its dominance to foist agreements on third parties, whereby they are bullied into supporting or distributing Google’s services exclusively.