Google's rivals to reject offer of label in listings in antitrust probe

26 April 2013

google glasses

Google's rivals (the rest of the universe) have dropped a huge hint that they won't be accepting Google's offer to label their services in search listings. This is the latest in an attempt to settle the tediously long-running antitrust investigation by the European Commission over the internet behemoth's market dominance.

Google's offer was published on Thursday by EC competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia, who not only has an exciting name, but has also given rival organisations a month to respond to the proposals.

Should they be accepted, Google will have to display results in a set format within the EC. However, this doesn't seem likely and, if that's the case, Almunia could be obliged to issue a formal "Statement of Objections" to Google's conduct, which will end up in more fines and Google being forced to follow a legally binding code of conduct. 'Don't be evil' indeed.

This is all to do with an investigation that has been running since 2010, when Foundem, Microsoft-owned Ciao, and the French legal search engine filed a complaint. Further complaints have come from independent European consumer organisation BEUC (who count Which!!! as one of their members) and they're collectively disappointed with the proposals, saying that this won't come close to "eradicating the current anti-competitive behaviour in what is essentially a monopoly market".

Google are, ostensibly, being accused of rigging search results and promoting their own services such as YouTube, Maps, Shopping and Local. Proposals state that Google should be at least listing links to at least three other companies' sites. However, BEUC said the "labelling" proposal "may even shepherd consumes towards clicking on Google services [that would be] highlighted in a frame … Labelling an infringement of competition law doesn't prevent it being an infringement."

Shivaun Raff, co-founder of the UK vertical search company Foundem said: "The only foolproof way to tackle abusive practices is to end them. Ultimately, the only way to end Google's search manipulation practices and restore a level-playing field is to ensure that Google holds all services, including its own, to exactly the same standards, using exactly the same crawling, indexing, ranking, display, and penalty algorithms."

TOPICS:   Technology


  • StuPid
    I've never really understood why the EU believes it can tell companies and customers what to do - nobody is forced to use Google, they just do because it works better than anything else out there. If they want to advertise their own services on their own website then they can do that too. Equally if they want to not bother putting other websites on their listings (which they don't do, but could), then that is completely up to them - they never signed up to list whatever Governments (and anyone who cries to them) tell them to. It's a bit like Microsoft being told that they cannot use their software within their software as it's "unfair" to other browser makers - The people that wanted to use a different browser always have done - why should the company have to justify it? Apple will be next as Macs and iOS come with Safari.
  • oliverreed
    @StuPid, hang on, I'll just Bing it. Oh wait.
  • tom
    @StuPid because the majority of people are 'stupid' and do what they are told by large companies. There has to be some 'higher power' which is not based on profit greed to help guide people. When companies get to certain size product competition fails and you end up with a stagnant market place.
  • Terry K.
    @Tom, There does need to be a governing body, but these antitrust cases are silly in most cases. Why shouldn't they be able to have links to their own products on their own search engine. They would never go in to Asda and tell them they have to advertise at least 3 other companies loafs on there. Why is it different when counting more technological areas.

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