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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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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.

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