Andrus Ansip, the EU's Digital Single Market Commissioner, said in an interview with Reuters that he is concerned that big tech companies may be abusing dominant positions, adding that investigations into Google must not be rushed.
EU lawmakers are set to vote on a motion this week proposing the break-up of Google and other Internet firms. The move comes amid increasing political pressure on the bloc to curb their market dominance. The draft motion of the European Parliament would ask regulators to consider unbundling, or splitting up, Internet search engines from other commercial services. Although the parliamentary vote is non-binding, such a public call for a break-up would be the most far-reaching action proposed so far, Reuters reports.
"We have some doubts about misuse of gatekeeper positions and also leading positions in the markets," Ansip said in an interview, stressing that he was not citing particular companies.
"I'm not ready to say that they will have to be broken up, talking about vertically integrated structures," he said. "We have to investigate very carefully where those problems are ... and then find possible solutions," adding that decisions should only be taken after a full public debate.
"For many small and medium-sized companies, for family businesses, because of those vertically integrated structures it's impossible to gain visibility," he said. "And if you are not able to gain visibility it means you are not able to sell," Ansip said.
When Ansip assumed the position, the Wall Street Journal said that he would be a tough opponent for US tech giants. In his speech Ansip said that the abuse of a dominant position is unacceptable, stopping only short of mentioning Google.
EU authorities have been eyeing Google and its data collection practices for some time. Among others, authorities have voiced suspicion that Google is manipulating search results to promote services and goods that it itself offers.