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Europe's antitrust chief accused Google of diverting traffic

Google may have gotten off pretty easy with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier this month, but it doesn't look like the European antitrust authorities will let Google go with a warning and a slap on the wrist.

Joaquin Almunia, Europe's antitrust chief, recently said that Google is providing search results that promote its own services instead of fairly showing those of competitors.

"We are still investigating, but my conviction is [Google] are diverting traffic," said Almunia. "They are monetising this kind of business, the strong position they have in the general search market and this is not only a dominant position, I think -- I fear -- there is an abuse of this dominant position."

Almunia added that he agreed with the FTC's recent decision to force Google to change its business practices, but the EU's punishment at the investigation's conclusion will "not be weaker."

Google could have to pay the EU a fine as high as 10 percent of its global annual turnover, which would be about $3.79 billion.

Earlier this month, Google managed to escape a nearly two-year U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation without paying any fines. Instead of paying fines, the FTC made Google promise that it would stop scraping reviews and information from other websites, stop requesting sales bans when suing companies for patent infringement and allow advertisers to export data in order to evaluate advertising campaigns.

The decision to not fine Google after such a long investigation surprised many rival companies like Microsoft and Nextag, who believe Google won't learn its lesson unless there are severe consequences.

Source: ZDNet

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I don't get it
By bug77 on 1/11/2013 9:58:10 AM , Rating: 5
How is "scraping reviews and information from other websites" bad for the consumer? I Google suppose to return just an URL? An IP?
And again, you think Google is stealing your work? It's very easy to disable their indexing of your site.

RE: I don't get it
By drlumen on 1/11/2013 1:03:15 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think it is bad for the customers so much as bad for some businesses. If google is scraping and aggregating data from other websites and displaying those aggregates then I can see how the underlying businesses could be loosing traffic and money. I have no idea what M$ could be complaining about nor do I care.

I agree though that the EU appears to have found a blank check in American businesses. It seems the EU is very willing to leverage it and extort money only to prop up some of their failing economies.

RE: I don't get it
By bug77 on 1/11/2013 1:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
That is not true, it is not bad for businesses.

If I see a snippet of the result, I can pick what I think is the right answer and open that page. Now, If I didn't actually open each and every link Google returned, that doesn't mean the other websites lost traffic. It means I was able to easily find what I was looking for. Otherwise we could just go back to archie and gopher.

RE: I don't get it
By someguy123 on 1/12/2013 12:02:27 AM , Rating: 2
Scraping a webpage doesn't necessary mean google will link people to it. They could simply compile that data for themselves and offer it in one of their services.

RE: I don't get it
By vXv on 1/11/2013 4:51:20 PM , Rating: 3
I agree though that the EU appears to have found a blank check in American businesses. It seems the EU is very willing to leverage it and extort money only to prop up some of their failing economies.

The EU's economy is by GDP the biggest in the world ... the fines from the antitrust cases are hardly going to affect it in any way.

So this isn't really the reason why there are doing it.

RE: I don't get it
By michael67 on 1/12/2013 1:49:22 PM , Rating: 1
Whats even worse, the article is totally off base.

To summon op the quote of a EU spokes person.

As on the moment the EU is in heavy negotiations with Google, and tho Google is seen as a hard negotiator, but other then MS, Google is constructive in its negotiations and tries to find a solution ware both parties can live whit!

MS got a reasonable fine for not following EU regulations, just as any EU company would get braking US rules.

Only MS was thinking, hey we are special and the rules don't count for us, EU gave a $5~600b fine, and MS capt ignoring EU ruling, they got a new fine, and then they had to pay a x amount everyday MS did not follow the ruling.
The US calls it EU greed, the EU calls it MS stupidity for not listening what local law said it has to do.

Intel came of cheap imho as a higher fine would bin more appropriate, and the settlement between Intel and AMD was a complete joke, as imho AMD deserved about 10x it got.

And Intel is now market leader by just outspending AMD by buying market share.

Stop calling the EU greedy, and demand your own FTC to have more of a backbone, and defend your interest, instead of Google's!

RE: I don't get it
By lotharamious on 1/13/2013 10:22:34 AM , Rating: 2
Painful to read. Get whit da game and laern some grrammear.

RE: I don't get it
By A11 on 1/14/2013 10:16:47 AM , Rating: 2
I agree though that the EU appears to have found a blank check in American businesses. It seems the EU is very willing to leverage it and extort money only to prop up some of their failing economies.

You realize EU investigated and fined Intel/MS because other "American" companies had complained about their business practices?

I'm not aware of why they began investigating Google but I wouldn't be surprised if MS had a thing or two to do with it.

Btw you might want to look into the actions of your own justice department, they've been known to fine foreign companies as well (The LCD cartel case springs to mind).

RE: I don't get it
By ShieTar on 1/14/2013 11:18:56 AM , Rating: 1
The 450 M$ fine that the american FTC made german Siemens AG pay also springs to mind. Extorted money to prop up the failing economy in Idaho?

If you want to be a global company, you need to obey the national and supernational laws applicable in all your markets. If you don't like EU laws, don't sell your product there.

US not much different, but...
By risko on 1/11/2013 4:53:45 PM , Rating: 3
EU has always been overprotecting consumers and small businesses. Here in the US, we endorse large corporations and industry powerhouses. Still, I believe that the $14mil Google spent on lobbying in 2012 has played a major role in getting away with being fined in the US.

RE: US not much different, but...
By BZDTemp on 1/11/2013 10:01:21 PM , Rating: 2

More like the greedy US politicians are letting the industry write the laws and thus the US consumers are taken advantage of. In fact just like you're saying about the effect of Googles lobby money. Other prime examples are Lex Disney and also the way RIAA and MPAA has ensured those insanely draconian laws on copyright violations.

PS. It is not like there isn't billion dollar companies from the EU in fact take a look on the Fortune 500 list and you'll find the top holds four US companies, three Chinese companies, two EU companies and one Japanese with the EU companies taking spot #1 and #4. And if you look at the next ten on the list there is five from the EU, one Swiss, one Japanese, one Russian, one South Korean(Samsung) and one from the US(GM at #19).

RE: US not much different, but...
By Solandri on 1/12/2013 2:14:38 PM , Rating: 2
I don't really see it in terms of overprotecting / not protecting. I see it in terms of free market / government mandate (basically capitalism / socialism). The US is more likely to let the market sort itself out, the EU is more likely to step in and lay down well-intended but sometimes misguided mandates.

Sometimes the US gets screwed over by its philosophy, like it did with collateralized debt obligations (fancy word for "risky mortgages mixed with safe ones" which made buyers think there weren't any risky mortgages in them).

Sometimes the EU gets screwed over by its philosoy, like it did with GSM. (It used the horrible TDMA, which is now only retained for GSM voice. Most GSM 3G data now uses CDMA. That's right, CDMA won the transmission standard war. GSM was forced to adopt CDMA in its spec in order to provide GSM customers competitive data speeds. 4G LTE uses OFDMA, which until recently was too processor-intensive to decode on a phone.)

RE: US not much different, but...
By BZDTemp on 1/13/2013 7:14:15 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting perspective and I can't say that I totally disagree with you. Only with regards to how business is controlled in the EU I do not see as socialism more like a business made to just a little bit controlled.

It's really only nuances that differs business in the EU and the US with the exception that more and more the politicians in Washington can be bought (which is why you see corporations making contributions to both red and blue).

I'm not saying that money can't buy influence in the EU because there certainly are some member countries where some politicians are for sale but in much of the EU such antics are not the order of the day.

Consumer protection in the EU is not anti business it is just there to make sure there is transparency, fair an open trading and that the use of dirty tricks are kept at bay. For instance a shop, be it on-line or down on the corner, can not sell things without a two year warranty* and even if the shop gets creative and trick the consumer to sign a no-warranty contract the law states such a contract has no merit.

*There are some conditions and limitations to the warranty.

By BZDTemp on 1/11/2013 9:37:57 PM , Rating: 5
"all the monies" is pocket change and nothing more. You really should read just a little about what the EU is, here are a few facts to get you started:

- EU is a union of 27 countries.
- The combined population of those countries is aprox a ½ billion people.
- Consumer protection laws are strong in the EU and that also means laws to ensure fair and open competition thus anti-trust laws are strict.
- The EU is a bigger economy than the US and while some member countries are struggling as a whole the is much better funded than the US. If China and the arab oil states wasn't carrying the US and so allowing for the absurd national debt to go on the US would be like Greece.

As for the EU doing a pick and choose that is simply not so - it is merely that you hear about anti-trust cases in the EU when it involves US companies. And also while I can certainly agree that Apple is evil and that they do their best to lock in the customers Apple is no where near having the same kind of market control as Microsoft. There is only two areas where Apple is or has been close to holding a de facto monopoly and that is online music and eBooks - and guess what the EU is following those areas closely and has in fact forced some changes.

PS. The Microsoft thing was not about them preventing users installing another browser. It was about Microsoft using their OS dominance to gain similar control over other markets and had they not been held up just a bit then it would have been much worse than what we have now. Try and read on Netscape vs Microsoft and then extrapolate from there. For instance ask yourself what happened to RealPlayer when Microsoft got serious about their MediaPlayer making damn sure it came with every Windows install.

The boring reality
By Aloonatic on 1/11/13, Rating: -1
RE: The boring reality
By spamreader1 on 1/11/2013 1:56:46 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know, that would seem more of pride in your own products. I admittedly haven't followed this situation that closely, and I can't imagine on Apples website, them selling PC's as well as MACs when someone is looking at a gaming computer.

RE: The boring reality
By drycrust3 on 1/12/2013 6:31:25 PM , Rating: 2
Totally agree.
It is entirely normal for companies everywhere to promote their own products and services and to leave competitors products to the competitors to promote.
It isn't as if you need to use Google, you don't, for many searches any reasonable search engine will do as good a job as Google does, in fact it is arguable that for any important search you should do a repeat on a different search engine to ensure you get a more balanced search result.
The pity is there are so few good search engines around that integrate with Firefox's search bar.

RE: The boring reality
By drycrust3 on 1/11/2013 4:05:44 PM , Rating: 2
The point is, when a Google product/service is relevant to the search made, they put their product/service at the top, regardless of whether they are the most relevant or the "best" result for the search made.

Ok, so if I go to Google (as in the search engine) and put in "search engine" then, by your claim, I would expect to find "the worlds' most popular search engine" at the very top, but you are wrong. The top 10 results, which I have abbreviated, are what I see here in New Zealand, so it may differ elsewhere, but these are the results I get:
1) Comprehensive list of Search Engines - The Search Engine List
2) Web search engine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
3) SearchNZ - New Zealand's leading search engine
4) Dogpile Web Search
5) New Zealand Search Engines and Directories
6) Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Paid Search Advertising (PPC ...
7) Google
8) Bing
9) Yahoo! Search - Web Search (
10) What is search engines? - A Word Definition From

Notice how Google's results include themselves only once (at number 7), but include 3 "international" competitors, Dogpile (at number 4), Bing (8th), and Yahoo / Altavista (9th); and one "local" search engine, SearchNZ at number 3.
When consider the fact the Google's search engine is a very very good search engine, it may well be that if you continually ask it for Google products and services that it does put those at the top of the search results because those are products and services you have asked for in the past. As such, if that is what is happening, then who's fault is it if Google's products are higher on the list than other competitors (and especially less well performing competitors)?
Also, and I don't like to reiterate, Google IS the world's most popular search engine, AND it is a very very good search engine, so one would totally expect it to be near the top of any reasonably good search engine result. The fact that it doesn't appear at the top of other search engine results (see below) doesn't necessarily mean Google are the ones manipulating their results, it could be Google's competitors are the ones at fault.

When I put "search engine" into other some other search engines, such as Bing, Dogpile, Duckduckgo, and Baidu, I do get other results, but that is totally to be expected. One interesting fact is 3 of those search engines exclude Google, the world's most popular search engine, from their top 10 results. The exception is Baidu.
When you look at Bing, they include themselves at number 5, and Baidu with themselves at number 1, so for Google to include themselves at number 7 is not unique either.

RE: The boring reality
By Aloonatic on 1/24/2013 1:25:30 PM , Rating: 2
Only on DT can you be down-rated as being "not worth reading" for:

1) Predicting what would happen in other comments accurately.
2) Actually telling you (dear reader) what the complaint from the EU is about, as the trolling author didn't think that it was worth putting in their actual article.

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