Google hasn’t quite managed to get itself out of hot water with the European Commission. The proposed concessions it presented to the council in response to charges that the way it presents its search results is anti-competitive have officially been knocked down for not going far enough.
In a press conference today European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said: “I concluded that the proposals that Google sent to us are not enough to address our concerns.” He has apparently now requested better proposals from the search engine giant.
The three-year investigation examines whether Google is boosting the ranking of its own search and advertising services – such as Google News, Google Shopping, Google Places and Google Flights – over those of competitors. Now, Google faces serious consequences if it does not address the charges: The search engine could be fined as much as $5b if it does not make changes.
The concessions offered by Google so far include labelling its own results as promoted posts, listing at least three competitors (such as Yelp or TripAdvisor) in some search results and listing its own results separately from normal results.
Industry watchdogs are concerned that competing services and results that may be better, or more relevant, than those offered by the search engine giant could be missed by consumers due to Google’s self-promotion. Considering that Google holds over 80 per cent of Europe’s internet search market, this could be very detrimental to the success of competing providers.
Al Verney, a Google spokesperson, said the company will be working with the Commission to redress the problem.
Lobbying group FairSearch, which counts Microsoft, Expedia and Oracle as its member, has been campaigning against Google’s market dominance and is keen for the EU to pass more stringent conditions for the search engine. The group made it clear that it didn’t think Google’s proposed changes went far enough when the search engine presented them in May this year.
Google has also faced antitrust charges in the US, though could settle them without making any major changes to the way it ranks its results.
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