updated 12:35 pm EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
Proposals to end antitrust probe are 'not enough' states Competition head
A proposal by Google to alter its search results does not go far enough to minimize antitrust issues, according to the European Commission (EC). Joaquin Almunia, the European Competition Commissioner believes that the proposals submitted in April by the search giant are "not enough to overcome our concerns," and requests for Google to resubmit with some improvements.
If enforced, the proposals would have seen Google clearly labeling any search results for its own products, as well as providing links to other similar services and results from competing search engines. In results where Google sells advertising, such as those of restaurant reviews, it would have to provide links to three or more competitors, while results for search tools where all links are paid advertisements, for example in Product Search, would also feature results that are placed in an auction, so that other companies can bid and place their own links. Websites could also block specific content from Google's services, forcing users to visit their pages to get more information about items.
While the plans allowed for other companies to influence Google search results for a five year period, the EC received a number of complaints from competitors and other businesses after its request for feedback. Comments provided to the EC influenced its dismissal of the Google proposals, prompting more changes.
Google spokesperson Al Verney told Reuters that the company is continuing to work with the EC over the issue, stating "Our proposal to the European Commission clearly addresses the four areas of concern." Almunia hopes to be able to end the investigation, which has so far taken three years, by the end of this year, though he declined to say if a deadline has been set.
Lobbying group ICOMP suggested to the Commission that Google should be penalized if it fails to offer a better proposal. FairSearch, another lobbying organization, believes that Google's offer was "highly unlikely" to improve competition in search.