10. April 2013–
The results of the European Commission investigation in Google means the search engine will likely have to change its search result rankings after the Commission found it has been promoting its own results over those of rivals.
The Financial Times broke the story, writing that the main issue the European Commission has with the search engine is that it is hindering the results in “vertical search” services – the specialised search engines that provide information on a single subject, such as maps, finance or weather.
The Commission found rivals in these areas are harder for users to find as Google results dominate by being presented first – a quick Google of the weather proves this. The search engine is also under fire for not clearly distinguishing that its results are promoted links, as opposed to other sources.
What does this mean for Google?
What does this mean for the search engine? According to FT, it's likely that it will have to be more transparent with labelling its own content and stop dominating its results over its rivals – a practice that the Commission says is detrimental to consumers as it restrict the breadth of their choice.
Google will be handing in their final offer of concessions to the commission by the end of this week in a move to avoid antitrust charges and serious fines – though exactly what these concessions will be has not been revealed.
Google has had a tumultuous relationship with some European regulators and lobby groups in the past – most recently, German publishers proposed changes to the German Copyright Act, which (in their original form) would have required Google to pay for the snippets of articles used in Google News.
Google is also facing accusations of anti-competitive practices in the mobile sphere from organisation FairSearch, which counts Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle among members, for offering Android software for free if manufacturers give Google's services prominence.
In other European Union news today, member states have agreed to let startups use public data – including for the weather and road traffic – at little or no cost.
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