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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 chimto on 7/17/2013 8:11:43 PM , Rating: 2
Your description of the situation sounds as if the EU is fining google just because they have a large market share.

I don't quite understand what google is doing that might deserve a $5 billion dollar fine and I don't know all the details of the investigation. But if the EU is just handing down fines to companies that are large or have large market share for no reason other than the fact that they are large companies, to me that seems plain wrong.

RE: I'm confused
By Alexvrb on 7/17/2013 8:39:16 PM , Rating: 2
Your description of the situation sounds as if the EU is fining google just because they have a large market share.
Yeah, well the truth ain't always pretty.

RE: I'm confused
By Azethoth on 7/17/2013 9:24:14 PM , Rating: 2
IANAL, but I believe the origins of this batch of suits were from companies similar to ehow and and similar SEO schemes.

They add nothing to your google search except crappy links to their crap site that if you click on it, gives you a bunch of useless crap + the ads they then make money off of.

Rightfully Google punishes these useless parasites in their search algorithm. In turn this is considered unfair.

As a google search user though I do not care, I do not want to see that crap and so I use some plugins to wipe the crap away.

Meanwhile, they get butt hurt when the algorithm roots them out and go cry to the EU and FTC. Then MS and other big companies fund their crying and we end up with Google getting extorted for no good reason.

RE: I'm confused
By Azethoth on 7/17/2013 9:27:13 PM , Rating: 2
Damn damn damn. I could have worked crapnado into that post.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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