Feeds

Whacking Joaquin: EU competition chief defends handling of Google search case

Says planned settlement deal shouldn't be ridiculed by Microsoft

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Microsoft is wrong to suggest that the European Commission has caved in to Google's revised package of concessions to resolve a long-running competition dispute over the ad giant's search biz, antitrust boss Joaquin Almunia said today.

Brussels' vice president told The Register, during a discussion with journalists in London this morning, that Microsoft in particular knew first-hand what happens when a company had breached the commitments it previously agreed to in a settlement deal.

"I cannot understand some voices that have been involved in previous Article 9 commitment decisions, that now appear [to suggest] that a commitment decision is not an antitrust decision," said Almunia.

"I cannot understand this."

The EC's investigation into that case was sparked after browser-maker Opera complained that Microsoft was unfairly bundling Internet Explorer with its market-dominating desktop operating system.

The software giant agreed in late 2009 to offer consumers within the EU a choice of browsers for five years under a legally binding deal it had struck with the Commission. But the choice screen disappeared from its OS in February 2011. It remained missing in action for a staggering 17 months before anyone noticed.

Eventually, Brussels intervened.

"Microsoft, four years ago, was participating in a commitment decision, afterwards it breached the commitments and received a fine," Almunia said today.

However, as El Reg noted at the time, the fine itself was small with MS being ordered to pay €561m for the mishap, which translated to less than 1 per cent of the company's annual revenue in 2013.

Microsoft has been a vocal opponent of Google's perceived stranglehold on Europe's search market, where the company commands a dominant position.

Joaquin Almunia speaking in London on Friday

Lobby groups that it supports, including ICOMP, have expressed dismay with Almunia's handling of the more than three-year-long competition case.

The commissioner, who stands down from his role in November this year, said that he had undergone "tough negotiations" with Google. He added: "The third round [of proposals from Google] is able to eliminate our concerns in this particular investigation."

But Almunia was keen to stress that Google continued to face intense scrutiny from Brussels.

"We have other aspects that are being looked at regarding Google in the antitrust domain and other domains," he said.

The commissioner's office is currently weighing up complaints about Mountain View's Android operating system for smartphones, among other things.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
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.
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.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.