Google Settles EU Search Investigation, Rivals Not Satisified
April 15, 2013 1:51 PM
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Rivals like Microsoft believe the EU is too soft on Google
The European Commission has come to an agreement with Google on the search dominance investigation, but Google's
competitors are not happy
with the deal.
Google's settlement proposal will not change the algorithm used to create its search results, but rather, the company will clearly label any search results from its own services. Not only that, but in some instances, Google will offer links from rival search engines.
More specifically, services where Google doesn't make money from search results (like weather and news) will be labeled as Google services. For places where Google sells ads, links to at least three competitors will be displayed. For services like Google Shopping, links to rivals will be auctioned.
In addition, the proposal will give websites the option to keep their content from vertical search properties, but stay in general search results. Furthermore, Google will help small businesses move their ad campaigns to other search engines.
The EU has accepted this proposal without pressing any fines on Google. Now, industry experts and rivals can voice their opinions of the settlement during market testing before the changes are implemented.
Rivals, like Microsoft, are not happy with this outcome. They said that Google is a determining factor as to what Europeans search, read and purchase online (about 86 percent of Europeans use Google for search) and that its practices are only benefitting itself; not consumers and fair competitors.
“When the market test goes ahead, we will try and be constructive,” said David Wood, a lawyer for Brussels-based industry group ICOMP, which includes Microsoft. “But if it doesn’t clearly set out non-discrimination principles and the means to deal with the restoration of effective competition, plus effective enforcement and compliance, it’s very difficult to see how it can be satisfactory.”
The European Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into Google's search behavior in November 2010.
In May 2012, the European Commission said that Google should submit changes in how its search results are wired. In February of this year, Google
promised to do just that
in order to avoid any further wrath from the EU.
In January of this year, Google managed to escape a two-year U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation
with no fines
. The investigation looked into Google's possible abuse of search dominance as well by using results to its own advantage. Shortly after, the EU said it
didn't plan to go easy on Google
the way the U.S. did.
Google may not be out of trouble just yet, though. Fairsearch Europe -- a group of Google competitors including Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle -- filed a complaint against Google just last week for the way
it builds the Android operating system
to benefit Google apps in most smartphones.
According to the complaint, Fairsearch Europe is accusing Google of using its mobile OS "as a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today."
The New York Times
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