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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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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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