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Google faces EC showdown over antitrust remedies

01/07/2013 16:30

EU authorities could accept search company's concessions, seek new ones, or launch process leading to legal enforcement.
Google faces a day of reckoning with the European Commission, after a coalition of competitors roundly rejected its proposals to change the presentation of search results to Europeans in the face of monopoly complaints.
Joaquin Almunia, the EC's antitrust commissioner, must now decide whether to accept Google's suggestions, seek new concessions, or instead move to a "statement of objections" leading to legal enforcement on the search giant. If Google didn't comply, it could be fined up to 10% of the company's global revenues.
Almunia hinted a month ago that Google would have to revise its offering, following initial angry reaction from rivals. Last Thursday he said in a speech in Madrid that "there is a tougher way to handle it" if negotiations fall short.
He also hinted that if a deal is feasible, "it will probably be reached by the end of the year." It would also be the first time anywhere in the world that Google has been obliged to change its search presentation over monopoly concerns. A deal would be binding for at least five years.
But competitors who have studied the proposals in depth over the past two months are scathing. "It would be better to do nothing than to accept Google's proposals," said Thomas Vinje of FairSearch, a group of 17 companies including Microsoft and TripAdvisor. "The proposals would make things worse rather than better."
Instead, they say, the past two months have shown that Google's proposed labelling – which would distinguish its own offerings from rivals' content – actually favours the US company.

Source: https://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jul/01/google-ec-antitrust-remedies