Feeds

Ad giant Google makes new 'abuse' case offer to EU antitrust cops

But revised fix yet to be made public

High performance access to file storage

Google appeared to confess today that it had given up fighting the European Commission and its rivals in the search business over claims that it stifled the market by abusing its dominant position.

In a surprise statement from the ad giant, the company appeared to be willing to go much further than it had originally suggested to put an end to a three-year-long battle with antitrust regulators in the EU.

"This has been a very long and very thorough investigation. Given the feedback the European Commission received on our first proposal, they have insisted on further, significant changes to the way we display search results," said Google general counsel Kent Walker.

"While competition online is thriving, we’ve made the difficult decision to agree to their requirements in the interests of reaching a settlement."

Earlier today, Brussels' competition boss Joaquin Almunia went into some detail about Google's revised offer, which he said had "more appropriately" addressed his concerns about the company's alleged abuse of dominance in the search market.

The commissioner, who leaves his post next year, is keen to secure a robust settlement deal with Google that – he has said – will restore competition quickly.

What's interesting is that Google has now indicated that it no longer wishes to fight the EC and its rivals in the case over the abuse claims.

A swift exit from a lengthy battle with the 28-bloc state might actually satisfy Google for a different reason, however. Almunia has already made it clear that, despite requests from the complainants in the case that include Microsoft and Foundem, he will not be proceeding with a second market test that would allow Google's rivals to closely scrutinise the new proposals it has tabled with the commission.

Almunia said today that he was already aware of "the general positions of the complainants and other stakeholders". And, while he does plan to seek feedback from those companies, no formal market test of Google's revised package of concessions will take place this time.

It is now left to competition officials to decide if Google's final offer to fix the way it does business in Europe will be technically feasible in releasing its perceived stranglehold on the search market.

An agreement could be reached as early as next spring.

Lobby outfit FairSearch, whose members include Microsoft, Foundem, Tripadvisor, Oracle and Expedia, said that Google needed to act fairly to restore competition in the search market.

"Until we have seen the details of Google’s proposed remedies, it would be irresponsible to comment on their content and potential for correcting the anti-competitive behaviour identified by the European Commission in May 2012," said the group's legal counsel Thomas Vinje.

"However, for FairSearch Europe it is essential that the remedies install the principle of non-discrimination so that Google applies the same rules to its own services as it does to others when it returns and displays search results."

Google isn't completely safeguarded, of course, from the commission ruling that a formal decision to place sanctions on the ad giant should be applied if Almunia and his officials fail to be satisfied with the company's offer. A Statement of Objections could still be issued that could lead to Google facing a fine of up to 10 per cent of its annual worldwide turnover.

But, after today's comments from the commissioner and especially Google, the case now seems to have edged significantly closer to a settlement deal that could yet leave some parties feeling frozen out of the negotiations. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
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.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.