Fair Search: Google vs. Europe’s Anti-Trust

Written by | Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

The American giant Google has been under EU anti-trust investigation since November 2010 due to ‘unfair preference in search results to its own services, copy of content without permission, tie-up of publishers with exclusivity deals, and discouragement of clients from using other advertising platforms.’ However, according to Google’s report to EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, the company has implemented significant remedies as of last month.
Reportedly, Google has proposed improvement on all problematic points, such as making search results of rival websites more visible. Yet, the initial reaction of the EU and anti-trust stakeholders has been critical. For example, the FairSearch alliance of companies which prompted Brussels to act against Google said that there was very little new in Google’s updated revised remedies. The alliance’s spokesman, Thomas Vinje, said that that the Google’s September proposal shows almost no innovation so it is difficult to envisage how the U.S. giant wants to address the problematic issues raised by Mr. Almunia. Moreover, Mr. Vinje added that the EU Commission had labeled the Google report as confidential, which makes it hard to obtain the precise details of the report.
Google stated that for its part the firm had made “significant changes to address EU concerns, greatly increasing the visibility of rival services and addressing other specific issues.” Needless to say that it is in the company’s interest to settle the anti-trust issue with the European Union unless it wants to risk a fine of up to 10 percent of annual sales. It is telling that Google covers about 70 percent of the United States’ market and about 90 percent in Europe.

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