Feeds

Google gets closer to EU antitrust deal over search dominance 'abuse'

Likelier than ever to avoid fines, having to admit wrongdoing

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

But will scrutiny of Google be properly independent if deal is reached?

In its original offer in March, Google unashamedly said that it wanted to appoint the "monitoring trustee" who would be required to closely inspect the ad giant to ensure it sticks to its commitments with the commission.

Google had proposed putting forward a list of suitable candidates for the role. That trustee, Google claimed, would be independent from the company but paid by Mountain View to carry out the work.

"The monitoring trustee shall be remunerated by Google in a way that does not influence or impede the independent and effective fulfilment of its mandate," Google said at the time.

Almunia told MPs today that "in a commitment that in my view deserves careful attention, an independent monitoring trustee would be put in place to provide assistance to the Commission in ensuring that the principles outlined in Google's proposals would be implemented in practice."

It's not yet clear if the "careful attention" the commissioner talks of has anything to do with Google hiring the trustee, or whether the individual will, in fact, be truly independent of the company.

Settlement could be agreed by next spring

The commissioner said that he was now at a "key moment" in a case that has rumbled on for nearly three years.

He said Google would "support its new proposals with empirical data to show their impact."

As a next step, I will seek feedback on the improved commitments proposal from complainants and other relevant market participants. To that end, we will send information requests, on the basis of the EU Antitrust Regulation 1/2003, on the improvements that are being proposed.

We know the general positions of the complainants and other stakeholders. What we need now is to receive concrete technical elements on the effectiveness of the proposed package in order to conclude whether this new proposal is satisfactory from a competition point of view.

If our investigation on this improved proposal is satisfactory, I will continue the commitments route [Article 9] and end up with a formal decision next Spring. Otherwise, I will be forced to turn to a procedure under Article 7 of the Antitrust Regulation [PDF]: this would mean sending a Statement of Objections to Google in the coming months, to which Google could formally respond in writing and during an Oral Hearing.

Almunia concluded: "I think the settlement route remains the best choice."

Complainants against Google are now digesting the commissioner's remarks in Parliament this morning. The ICOMP lobby group – which counts Google's bitter rival Microsoft as a member – appeared unsatisfied with Almunia's speech.

Its legal counsel David Wood said, according to tweets from ICOMP: "It's unclear that the revised commitments go nearly far enough to meet third party concerns and restore competition, not least because it's unclear how much detail of the proposed package and supporting data will be made public."

He added: "The Commission's plan to issue Requests for Information would seem much less satisfactory than a second formal market test." ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.