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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.

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