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You are here: Home / Computing / Google Offers EC Antitrust Remedies
Google Offers Remedies To European Antitrust Concerns
Google Offers Remedies To European Antitrust Concerns
By Mark Long / CRM Daily Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has submitted a proposal to European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia in an attempt to avoid antitrust violation fines that could amount to 10 percent of the search engine giant's annual revenue.

The contents of Schmidt's letter to Almunia were not made public. But the search engine giant said in a statement that it has proposed remedies to the four potential violations of the European Union's antitrust and consumer protection laws that the European Commission outlined in May.

According to Almunia, European regulators would prefer to resolve its antitrust concerns with Google as soon as possible. The goal is to avoid a lengthy legal process comparable to the one in which Microsoft was ultimately forced to pay a $1.1 billion fine after losing its final appeal of an EC antitrust ruling last month.

Almunia noted that Google has repeatedly expressed its willingness to discuss any concerns that the EC might have without having to engage in adversarial proceedings. "Restoring competition swiftly to the benefit of users at an early stage is always preferable to lengthy proceedings, although these sometimes become indispensable to competition enforcement," Almunia said.

Using Content Without Permission

According to Web metric firm StatCounter, Google currently holds a 93.9 percent share of the European search market. Last May, the European Commission outlined four areas in which it believes Google's business practices may be considered as abuses of the search engine giant's market dominance.

With respect to users looking to obtain general search results on the Web, Google displays links to its own vertical search services -- specialized search engines which focus on specific topics.

"Google displays links to its own vertical search services differently than it does for links to competitors," Almunia said. "We are concerned that this may result in preferential treatment compared to those of competing services, which may be hurt as a consequence."

The EC is also concerned about the way Google copies content from competing vertical search services and uses it in its own offerings without prior authorization from rivals.

"We are worried that this could reduce competitors' incentives to invest in the creation of original content for the benefit of Internet users," Almunia said. "This practice may impact, for instance, travel sites or sites providing restaurant guides."

Harming SMBs and Costing Consumers

The European Commission's two other outstanding issues concern the agreements reached between Google and its advertising partners for delivering search advertisements alongside search results, which may shut out competing providers of search advertising intermediation services. Moreover, the EC is concerned about the restrictions Google places on advertising partners to limit the portability of online search advertising campaigns from its own platform to the platforms of competitors.

"If Google comes up with an outline of remedies which are capable of addressing our concerns, I will instruct my staff to initiate the discussions in order to finalize a remedies package," Almunia said. "Should this process fail to deliver a satisfactory set of remedies, the on-going formal proceedings will of course continue."

According to Fairsearch -- an organization founded by Google's main search competitors -- Google's business practices harm innovators and small businesses on the Internet, and cost consumers everywhere who pay higher prices due to inflated advertising costs. Fairsearch EU Counsel Thomas Vinje said he hoped that the proposals Google submitted to the EC on Monday reflected a greater willingness to end the search engine giant's anti-competitive behavior

"The Fairsearch coalition looks forward to engaging with the European Commission and Vice President Joaquin Almunia as interested third parties provide feedback on appropriate remedies to restore a competitive marketplace," Vinje said.

Image credit: iStock.

Tell Us What You Think


Peter Cao:
Posted: 2012-07-04 @ 3:17pm PT
There is actually a war between fascism and anti-fascism, at this stage, fascism still prevails in our lives, Eric Schmidt, Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler are just front figures we could see in this fascism circle, there is a whole pack of fascists behind them

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