April 25, 2013
Google Proposing Search Changes In Europe
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
In the latest development in a story which is well over two years in the making, Google has finally bent to the pressure they´ve been facing in Europe and have agreed to tweak their online search. The Menlo Park, California search giant will now include competitors´ links in their European search results, as well as clearly label the search results which point to their own services like YouTube or Google+. The European Commission is now asking Google´s competitors and other interested parties to give their input on these proposed changes before they approve them. Google first submitted these proposed changes earlier this month during a two-year long investigation into possible anti-competitive behavior. Should the European Commission approve these changes, Google will have to sign an agreement to keep these changes in place for five years. If Google breaks this commitment, they´ll be fined up to ten percent of their global revenue.
In 2010, the European Commission launched their investigation into Google´s search policies after three companies accused the search company of giving their own products and services preferential treatment in the results.
Furthermore, these companies argued those who hadn´t paid Google for advertising placement were pushed lower in the results list. Though Google has always claimed to cooperate with the investigation, they stated last year that they hadn´t done anything wrong.
In 2010, 17 companies banded together to form the FairSearch Coalition to stand up to Google´s alleged antitrust practices in both their search and mobile platform, Android. The FairSearch Coalition, comprised of companies such as Kayak, Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle, went so far as to call Android a “Trojan horse” meant to force Google products on their customers.
Today, the FairSearch Coalition is repeating their message, saying they believe Google unfairly games their own search results.
"We have always said that Google should subject its own products to the same rules it uses to rank and display other websites," FairSearch said in a statement, according to the AFP.
“That is the best way to meet the Commission's stated goals of restoring consumer access to a competitive market," said the coalition, later adding, "we think it is only fair that outside experts have more than a month" to examine them.”
Expedia and hot-map.com have already taken a look at the proposed changes and told the Wall Street Journal they will not go far enough to ensure fair competition. If accepted, these changes will only be required in Europe, despite the EU antitrust chief´s original wish to seek a “global solution.”
Google still believes they´ve done nothing wrong, saying only that they will cooperate with the European Commission during this investigation.
As a part of these proposed changes, Google has said they´ll begin clearly labeling any content they own.
Google will also begin to graphically separate any promoted links, display links to rival search services, and let publishers determine everyday if their content will appear on Google News.