updated 12:31 pm EST, Fri February 1, 2013
Proposal submitted by google avoids fines, censure
To solve European regulators' issues with its business practices, Google has submitted detailed proposals on the steps it will take to end a two-year investigation and dodge billions of dollars in fines. The European Commission said on Friday it has received the proposal, and if accepted under the settlement procedure, it will lead to no fine and no admission of guilt by the search engine. If there is no amicable resolution to the complaint, the company can be fined as much as 10 percent of its global earnings.
EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia refused to publicly give details of the proposal, saying only that "we are analyzing it." The commission will likely seek feedback from Google's rivals and the public on the proposal before doing market testing.
Previous remarks by the Commissioner stated that Google should face antitrust charges for "diverting traffic," and should be required to change the way that it returns search results to users. Almunia suggested that Google make it apparent to users that the service is using its own services to tailor search results, and does not give equal billing in search results to competitors.
European lobby group ICOMP believes that any solution should include provisions to ensure that others can not be squeezed out of the market by Google. The FairSearch Coalition said that Google promises weren't sufficient by itself and a third-party monitor should be instituted to guarantee neutral assessment of Google's compliance effort.