Feeds

Dominant web ad giant (Google) possibly 'weeks' away from Euro slapdown

Watchdog Almunia refuses to rule out fines in antitrust probe

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Google will learn within weeks if its alleged abuse of dominance in the European search market will earn it a formal complaint from the EU's competition regulator.

Sanctions and fines of up to 10 per cent of Google's annual worldwide turnover could yet be imposed on the company, antitrust commissioner and EC veep Joaquin Almunia said today.

His comments made it clear that Google's recent revised offer to tweak its search engine - submitted to the European Commission - was the final such package of concessions. The web ad goliath is accused of unfairly promoting its online services in its search results to the detriment of rivals.

If Almunia fails to be satisfied by the ad giant's latest proposed measures, which have been kept secret, then he will proceed by issuing a formal Statement of Objections (SO) to Google, a first step in forcing through a settlement or levying a fine. But if he is happy with the search results changes, Google could be legally bound to implement them.

"Google's algorithm played a major role in the company's success. Many startups – such as websites specialised in searches on particular topics – have benefited from Google’s role as one of the main entry points to the internet to roll out and rapidly bring new services to a wide audience," the competition commissioner, who leaves his role in 2014, said at a conference in Florence, Italy, on Friday.

"At the same time, it is my responsibility to ensure that Google does not abuse this gatekeeper role in the EU to push its own services against those of competitors who may be just as innovative," added Almunia.

He continued:

As you know, we want to find effective solutions to our concerns, so as to preserve competition in the coming years between these services. Whether we will ultimately achieve this through a commitment process is still open at this point in time.

But time is of the essence, and in the coming weeks I will take a decision about the use of Article 9, transforming Google's proposals into legally binding commitments, or go through the Article 7 route towards a SO and a possible negative decision.

This is the clearest indication to date from Almunia that he is ready to move to the next stage of an investigation that has been under way for nearly three years now.

It also suggests a negative outcome for Google's rivals, who have been lobbying hard for the commission to let them formally tear into Google's latest offer.

Almunia is now in a hurry to move the investigation along.

Earlier this month, Google submitted a revised plan to the Commission, after it was rejected by both the company's rivals and Almunia - who said that the advertising giant needed to present better or improved proposals.

Google has consistently maintained that it has addressed Almunia's concerns. Its chairman Eric Schmidt once told The Register that Google had "done nothing wrong" and was “happy to be educated on the contrary”. [sic] ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.