EU confirms antitrust probe into Android apps, News Corp. attacks Google news scraping

By Roger Fingas

The European Commission and global media giant News Corp. on Monday confirmed separate actions against Google, with both factions suggesting that Google may be violating European regulations.

In a speech in Amsterdam the Commission's competition head, Margrethe Vestager, said that the organization was looking into Google's deals with Android phone makers and carriers -- specifically, whether requiring that certain Google apps be preloaded is hampering the market for upcoming apps, according to Bloomberg. Reuters noted that the Commission has already been investigating Android for about a year as a result of two earlier complaints, including concerns that Google was preventing device makers from creating and marketing competing versions of Android.

Meanwhile, Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso on Monday confirmed a complaint from News Corp. that it will begin to assess. While neither News Corp. nor the Commission have provided any formal details, a Bloomberg source suggested that the issue is the combination of Google's search engine and Google News, which by scraping information allegedly deters people from visiting news websites and generating ad revenue.

News Corp. owns a number of major news sites around the world, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post in the U.S., Britain's The Times, and Australia's Even though publications like the Journal nominally hide their full content behind a paywall, Google's rules stipulate that articles must be available to scrape, and indeed it's possible to bypass the Journal's paywall by manually searching for an article's headline.