Google on Wednesday was charged with violating European Union antitrust laws by using its dominance in online advertising to undercut rivals, the latest in a string of cases around the world that strike at the core of the internet giant’s business model.
The case was brought by the European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-nation European Union, and marks the fourth time Google has been charged with violating European antitrust laws in recent years. In this instance, the E.U. accused Google of abusing its control of the market for buying and selling online advertising.
The European Union announcement follows similar charges brought against Google in January by the U.S. Justice Department, which accused the company of illegally abusing a monopoly over the technology that powers online advertising. Britain’s antitrust authority has also been investigating Google’s advertising practices.
The outcomes of the cases could have significant implications for Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which reaped most of its $60 billion in profit last year from advertising. Advertising underpins nearly all of Google’s most popular services, including search, email, maps and Android, and allows the company to offer them for free.