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The search company could get stuck with a fine of $5 billion if it can't convince the EU to settle

Google may have gotten out of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust investigation without much of a penalty earlier this year, but the European Commission isn't giving in so easily

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that Google's proposal for ending the investigation wasn't going to cut it. 

"I concluded that the proposals that Google sent to us are not enough to overcome our concerns," said Almunia. 

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. Google said it would in February of this year.

In April, Google submitted a settlement proposal that didn't change the algorithm used to create its search results. Rather, the company opted to 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) would have been labeled as Google services. For places where Google sells ads, links to at least three competitors would've been displayed. For services like Google Shopping, links to rivals would be auctioned.

In addition, the proposal aimed to give websites the option to keep their content from vertical search properties, but stay in general search results. Furthermore, Google wanted to help small businesses move their ad campaigns to other search engines.

While the European Commission initially accepted this proposal, Google rivals like Microsoft weren't happy with the proposal. Microsoft 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. 

It was announced in late April that Google competitors had one month to comment on the EU invesitgation, and it looks like Google's rivals voiced their opinions against Google's proposal. 

It's not clear when Google has to respond to the EU's latest decision, but the search company could get stuck with a fine of $5 billion if it can't convince the EU to settle. 

In January of this year, Google managed to escape a two-year 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.

Source: Reuters

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RE: I'm confused
By Rukkian on 7/17/2013 3:18:12 PM , Rating: 5
I view this as just a money grab, both from politicians getting "contributions" from competing companies, and from the EU to try and get some money out of another company.

RE: I'm confused
By wookie1 on 7/17/2013 4:50:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I think you're correct. The EU has to do 1-2 of these shakedowns every year to keep the money flowing in.

RE: I'm confused
By xytc on 7/18/2013 12:56:18 AM , Rating: 2
What bullshit is this really ? Google is not a public service that means it has no obligations towards any citizen, no one forces you to use Google. Google is a company that does business with other companies the search engine is the product they sell it to other companies.
People use this search engine for free because it works better than others not because someone forces them to use it.
As I've said Google search engine is not a public service but a product of a company that means EU has no right to tell Google how to develop it. It's like EU trying to tell BMW how to design cars or telling Microsoft to use Metro only interface for future OS's.
If EU is so concerned about it why don't they provide a public service search engine who stops them to do that if they wanna help their citizens ?
You can't go to a transport company and force them to transport your citizens for free.

RE: I'm confused
By Strunf on 7/18/2013 7:27:23 AM , Rating: 2
You're right 5 billions is good enough to make things go smoothly throughout the year... seriously the EU has a higher GDP than the US, on this scale of things 5 billions is close to nothing.

RE: I'm confused
By maugrimtr on 7/18/2013 11:32:15 AM , Rating: 2
The EU's GDP was $16.55 Trillion in 2012.

RE: I'm confused
By rountad on 7/18/2013 11:40:00 AM , Rating: 2
$5,000,000,000 here, $5,000,000,000 there. Pretty soon, you're talking about real money.

RE: I'm confused
By drevas3053 on 7/18/2013 11:20:41 PM , Rating: 2
But what was their debt to GDP ratio? Spain, Greece, Italy, austerity measures in England....If it wasn't for Germany you would be in deep trouble. The EU is no better of a political organization than any other Government entity. If you believe that they are then you are naïve. Of course this is protectionism and a money grab. just how often do you see European companies in front of U.S. regulators? Almost never. Draw your own conclusions.

RE: I'm confused
By Strunf on 7/19/2013 4:48:23 AM , Rating: 2
You don't see EU companies in front of the US regulators cause the US is quite protectionist, do I have to remind all the uproar you have in the US each time the Chinese want to buy a US company... and even if you disagree with that tell me the name of a EU company that is dominant in the US.

The European Commission also fines EU companies you just don't hear of it cause it doesn't concern the US, and before you start talking back about the amount check the data, the EU companies are also fined in the millions, as it should be the fines are proportional to the company size.

RE: I'm confused
By BZDTemp on 7/18/2013 3:42:19 AM , Rating: 2
I view this as just a money grab, both from politicians getting "contributions" from competing companies, and from the EU to try and get some money out of another company.

You need to get informed. The EU has strict rules aimed to ensure fair competition and also to protect people from companies abusing market control. This is what's going on and there is no money grabbing.

Silly enough your view is just following the automatic reaction on DT when ever there is mentioning of the EU going after a company. It's like people here thinks the EU is just a small thing run by politicians as bad as those in DC, but that is very far from being the case. First of all the EU is a union of more than a ½ billion citizens and the EU economy is bigger than the US. Secondly while the EU political system isn't perfect there is little corruption compared to most other places.

RE: I'm confused
By Rukkian on 7/18/2013 10:39:45 AM , Rating: 2
I could understand that more if their intial ruling had the fine, but they accepted the settlement until Microsoft "persuaded" them it was not enough. I know little about the EU, I will admit it, and maybe they have absolutely no corruption, and have the perfect society.

From what I have read on this topic, I do not understand the issue, especially if Google is willing to fix it.

RE: I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/18/2013 1:26:10 PM , Rating: 2
The EU doesn't really want the so-called issues fixed. They just want the money.

They pulled the same stunt with Microsoft remember? So Microsoft added a browser ballot process in Windows. But the EU pulled the "oh that's not good enough" BS, they just wanted the big fine.

RE: I'm confused
By BZDTemp on 7/19/2013 7:57:55 AM , Rating: 2
I'm gonna say it plainly so you can understand. You're an IDIOT.

The EU isn't a person or a small club where such a fine would matter in the budget. The EU is a ½ billion people so the fines given to Microsoft means nothing what matters is that free and fair competition is ensured. This is no different than US vs. Microsoft back in the day.

RE: I'm confused
By A11 on 7/21/2013 11:04:54 AM , Rating: 2
You can save yourself the effort of explaning what's really going on to Americans.

All they want to see is how the evil EU is stealing money from innocent American companies while ignoring the fact that it's pretty much always complaints about business practices made by other American companies which starts the investigations.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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