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Google doesn't want to follow in Microsoft and Intel's example

The European Commission revealed today that Google Inc. (GOOG), the world's largest search and smartphone operating system maker, has offered up some major concessions to try to avoid joining Intel Corp. (INTCand Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) as the latest victim of punitive billion-plus dollar antitrust fines.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia confirmed the submission to Reuters, but would not discuss the terms.  The demand set by group ICOMP -- whose members include Microsoft, Foundem, Hot-map, Streetmap, and Nextag -- is that the EU ensure that Google is kept on a "level playing field" with rivals, despite its position.  

While not elaborating on what that meant, possibilities including limiting Google's ability to scrape their data using scripts (given Google's advantage of owning a massive stockpile of servers) and limiting Google's ability to rank its own services in its search engine above theirs arbitrarily.

Another complainant, The FairSearch Coalition -- whose members include Expedia Inc. (EXPE) and TripAdvisor Inc. (TRIP) -- adds that a third party should be appointed to monitor Google.  In its U.S. settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Google largely shirked such a term, arguing that exposing its source code to third party monitoring would hurt its business due to possible leaks.  The FTC settled with Google without forcing the company to commit to the most severe of suggested terms or face fines.  The U.S. light treatment of Google drew criticism from rivals like Microsoft, but the FTC defended its decision.

Google has a more dominant position in search in Europe (82 percent of traffic) than in its home country, the U.S. (67 percent of traffic).  Aside from scraping and search ranking, a third concern of the EU is reports that Google pressured advertisers to use this service, by making it harder for sites to switch to less-dominant rival platforms.

Source: Reuters





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