Google's pay-to-play 'remedy' is warming Eurocrats' hearts

Yeah. We can do that. No problem.

By Andrew Orlowski


Regulators are warming to Google's preferred remedy to the European Commission's vertical search competition investigation, according to a briefing given to Bloomberg.

Google wants to create panels that third-party sites can bid for, as a remedy to the vertical search judgement, which concluded that Google had abused its monopoly position to hinder rivals. Google must pay a fine and come up with a set of practices. However, Google had already proposed an auction, which was rejected by the Commission and strongly criticised by rivals, arguing it turns "punishment into profit".

"Regulators have accepted that the panel is for advertising and slots cannot be given away," a source told Bloomberg's Aoife White.

Google will even bid for these slots via Google Shopping, although it told Bloomberg it will make structural changes so that the Google Shopping entity appears to be at arm's length.

"While Google Shopping can bid for those slots, it will be run separately to ensure that its bids reflect its own operating costs and aren't subsidized by Google," Bloomberg reported.

Last week Foundem, which originated as the 2009 complaint that sparked the probe, described the auction idea as Google putting another barrier in front of clever startups who dare challenge the Alphabet juggernaut. The move would "formalise the transformation of free, relevance-based traffic into paid, pay-for-placement traffic for all services but Google's own," the company's founders wrote.

Structural separation is antitrust-speak for breaking up a company. Bell escaped temporarily in 1956 because it agreed to stay out of the computing business (or anything other than telecoms) although it was a temporary respite: parent AT&T was broke itself up in 1984. Microsoft escaped because no buyer wanted Windows without Office, or vice versa.

This is not structural separation by any definition. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily


More from The Register

Neil Young slams Google, after you log in to read his rant with Google or Facebook

Heart Of Gold meets Piece Of Crap

Google to build private trans-Atlantic cable from US to France

Bandwidth is better, down where it's wetter, take it from me!

Ex-Intel exec Diane Bryant exits Google cloud

Could Chipzilla replace Brian with a Bryant?

Google cuts price of cloudy interconnects from partners

If you can't get to a POP yourself, this plan's for you

Google kills AdWords!

LOGOWATCH Don’t pop the champagne – it’s just a rebrand with some AI pixie dust

Google Cloud CEO admits: Yeah, we wanted GitHub too. Whatevs

'I really hope Microsoft can keep them totally neutral.' Haha

Google-free Android kit tipped to sell buckets

China, you see, has its own chocolate factories

Google freezes Android P: Get your shoes on, tire-kicking devs

Final 'droid P APIs, latest system images

Google offers to leave robocallers hanging on the telephone

♫ If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall ♫

Scammers use Google Maps to skirt link-shortener crackdown

Chocolate Factory's map service cuts commute times, URL lengths