Google Submits Proposal To Address EU Antitrust Concerns
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
The proposal comes as a result of an 18-month investigation led by Europe’s Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, into Google’s business practices. Almunia warned the Internet search giant in May that it needed to propose specific changes to these practices in several areas, including the way Google promotes its own offerings in search results. Almunia also said Google may have copied travel and restaurant reviews from rival websites without their consent, and that its advertising contracts may have prevented advertisers from moving their online campaigns to competitors.
Almunia set a deadline of early July for Google to settle these concerns, or face formal charges and hefty fines.
A spokesman for Almunia confirmed that the European regulatory body had received a proposal from Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, on Monday in response to Almunia’s request.
Google said its proposal complied with Almunia’s request, and that it would continue to work with the EU watchdog.
“We have made a proposal to address the four areas the European Commission described as potential concerns. We continue to work cooperatively with the Commission,” said Google spokesman Al Verney in a statement posted by BBC News on Monday.
Mountain View, CA-based Google has nearly 95 percent of Europe’s Internet search traffic, Microsoft said last year, citing data from regulators.
The company is currently under investigation by regulators in a number of countries, including the United States, Argentina and South Korea, for potential anti-trust violations.
Microsoft, which makes the Bing search engine, the British shopping website Foundem and other companies were among those who filed the complaints with the Almunia’s organization that triggered the probe.
“We hope the proposals reflect a greater willingness to end Google’s anti-competitive behavior than has its consistent rejection of the concerns that Mr. Almunia identified after collecting evidence for nearly two years,” said Thomas Vinje, an attorney for the FairSearch Coalition, a group that represents Microsoft, Expedia, TripAdvisor and other online travel agencies.
Vinje said FairSearch hoped Google’s proposal would address their concerns.
Both Google and Mr. Almunia’s office declined to disclose any details of Google’s proposed settlement.