Feeds

Google unlikely to get kid-glove treatment THIS side of pond - Euro biz players

All in Almunia's hands... now

Intelligent flash storage arrays

European web businesses are unlikely to give up the fight against Google's business practices, according to sources involved in the case. Reports at the weekend suggest that Google was close to reaching a closed door settlement with the FTC which would require it only to make voluntary presentational changes, and relieve it from signing a binding consent decree.

But Europe is unlikely to follow suit, says David Wood, who has acted on behalf of litigants in the parallel investigation by the European Commission.

Google's fate is in the hands of Competition Commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, who back in May urged Google to mend its ways in four areas: search neutrality, copying material from search rivals, anti-competitive contracts with advertising partners, and ad campaign portability. In September, he reiterated his view that a revised Google offer of remedies failed to address all the complaints.

The prospect of a rapid US settlement, with Google escaping unscathed, has raised eyebrows.

"Why would the FTC help Google undermine other law enforcement jurisdictions by abruptly closing the Google search bias investigation before the other jurisdictions act?" asked Scott Cleland, author of Search and Destroy: Why You Can't Trust Google Inc and chairman of NetCompetition, a trade body backed by telecomms companies. Cleland highlights what he calls "troubling irregularities".

Wood told us Google's market share in Europe, around 90 per cent or higher in most markets, meant Almunia was obliged to take the issues seriously. He also pointed out that the 20 or so complainants are unlikely to settle for a statement of objections from the Competition Commission which failed to address their complaints.

"The third parties are a formal part of the process, and these third parties have rights," Wood told us. "That's a big difference". If Almunia were to make a quick settlement then the third parties could take the Commission to the General Court. This would lead to the embarrassing prospect of the Commission lining up in the dock alongside the US corporation - against small European businesses.

(Of course, plenty of large European businesses don't like Google one bit either, but search neutrality tends to discriminate against smaller players).

Google's Schmidt was a significant contributor to President Obama's re-election campaign and reportedly spurned a Cabinet post in the new administration. Quite coincidentally, the Chocolate Factory has been the recipient of some of the gentlest of treatment US regulators have ever doled out. Google received a mere $25,000 fine for privacy violations from the FCC, even though it admitted hampering its investigation into Street View, followed by a $22.5m fine from the FTC for hijacking Apple's Safari.

Almunia is expected to meet Google's Schmidt tomorrow. Perhaps the chairman can win him over with his argument from last week, to paraphrase: "this is what capitalism looks like". ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.