Google should be broken up vote Euro lawmakers

Europe has passed a ruling calling for Google to be broken up, among other things, with politicians concerned that huge, dominant firms like the Silicon Valley giant could end up abusing their position. The vote today at the European Parliament focused on how search functionality should be unbundled from other commercial services, in an effort to reduce the potential of access being abused. While Google wasn't specifically singled out by name, the search giant is nonetheless top of the hit-list given it's responsible for around 90-percent of all queries by European web users.

Word of the upcoming vote surfaced last week, with reports that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) had become increasingly apprehensive of the behemoth Google had become.

The resolution was voted on today. Ministers "stressed the need to prevent online companies from abusing dominant positions by enforcing EU competition rules and unbundling search engines from other commercial services," the European Parliament said in a statement.

MEPs are focused on potential returns as well as equal access to data, however. For instance, a "digital single market" as it's referred to – mimicking the single European market for trade – could pump an additional €260 billion ($324bn) each year into the EU economy, it's estimated.

It would also act as a boost to competitiveness, the MEPs argued.

The vote was approved by 384 MEPs to 174, with 56 abstentions. However, while many in the Parliament might be agreed, that doesn't mean Google is instantly going to have to split apart.

The resolution is non-legislative, which means that it's more advice and guidance to regulators and member states than anything else. The MEPs' hope is that the European Commission will now step in "to prevent any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services by operators of search engines," up to and including considering proposals that would "unbundle" search from other commercial operations.

"Indexation, evaluation, presentation and ranking by search engines must be unbiased and transparent," the MEPs concluded.

Although the vote would apply to all search engines operating in Europe, Google certainly stands to lose the most if it is translated into regulations. A second strand of the resolution also dealt with net neutrality in Europe, calling for the ongoing telecoms legislation overhaul to be fast-tracked so that things like ending roaming charges between member states would take effect sooner.

It's not the first time in recent weeks that Europe has tried to wade more deeply in Google's business. Recently, EU privacy watchdogs suggested its controversial "right to be forgotten" tool, which allows EU residents to request incorrect or outdated information about themselves be redacted from search engines, should be extended to cover all of Google's international pages, not just those in Europe.

Google is yet to comment on the vote.