Feeds

Google's Euro antitrust offer: Fine! We'll link to our search rivals

Competitors have a month to mull 'half-hearted' deal

Top three mobile application threats

Google's rivals have been given one month to weigh up the advertising giant's now-public proposed changes to how it runs its European search business.

The deadline to "test" Google's offer of commitments was set by Brussels' competition chief Joaquin Almunia, who is investigating allegations that Google unfairly promotes its cloud-powered services over rivals' offerings in its search engine results. The internet titan is also accused of hoovering up material from its competitors and embedding it in its own websites.

"We hope to achieve a settled outcome and address each of the four concerns raised by the commission," a spokesman at Almunia's office said.

Google submitted a formal package of concessions to the European Commission to help draw the ongoing probe to an end, and these concessions have now been made public. The web giant offered, over a five-year period, to:

  1. label promoted links to its own specialised search services so that users can distinguish them from natural web search results,

    - clearly separate these promoted links from other web search results by clear graphical features (such as a frame), and

    - display links to three rival specialised search services close to its own services, in a place that is clearly visible to users;

  2. offer all websites the option to opt out from the use of all their content in Google's specialised search services, while ensuring that any opt-out does not unduly affect the ranking of those websites in Google's general web search results,

    - offer all specialised search websites that focus on product search or local search the option to mark certain categories of information in such a way that such information is not indexed or used by Google,

    - provide newspaper publishers with a mechanism allowing them to control on a per-web-page basis the display of their content in Google News;

  3. no longer include in its agreements with publishers any written or unwritten obligations that would require them to source online search advertisements exclusively from Google; and
  4. no longer impose obligations that would prevent advertisers from managing search advertising campaigns across competing advertising platforms.

The commission added that an independent monitoring trustee would closely watch Google to ensure that it sticks to its commitments.

Almunia's office said that - in its preliminary view - Google was found to be dominant in web search and search advertising.

"The commission has also reached the preliminary conclusion that in four areas Google may be abusing its dominant position in the European Economic Area (EEA). Such abuses would be in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union," the EC said.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on this story, but added: "We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission."

UK-based price-comparison outfit Foundem, which was one of the original complainants in the competition case brought against Google, said it needed to analyse the ad giant's proposals.

"Instead of promising to end its abusive practices, Google’s proposal seems to offer a half-hearted attempt to dilute their anti-competitive effects, by labelling Google’s own services and throwing in some token links to competitors’ services alongside them," said Foundem boss Shivaun Raff.

"Without robust guidelines that guarantee the placement, depth, prominence, and relevance of these links, and guarantee that the selection of competitors will be free from anti-competitive penalties and discrimination, neither measure will make a dent in Google’s ability to hijack the traffic and revenues of its rivals." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
AMD's 'Seattle' 64-bit ARM server chips now sampling, set to launch in late 2014
But they won't appear in SeaMicro Fabric Compute Systems anytime soon
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.