Google rival Foundem urges EU to reject remedies

The lead complainant in the Google antitust case says the current proposals would make matters worse

Google's proposals to address the European Commission's antitrust concerns will make matters worse, competitor Foundem said Tuesday in a complaint it filed in the case.

The Commission on April 25 opened a month-long period to allow rivals to assess a package of proposals aimed at alleviating concerns that they were unfairly penalized by Google's search algorithm and were placed lower down in search results, while Google's services were promoted.

British company Foundem was one of the first to complain to the Commission about Google's practices. A fundamental flaw undermines every clause in the proposals and "would do nothing to curtail the unassailable advantage that Universal Search affords Google's own services," Foundem CEO Shivaun Raff, said in a statement Tuesday. She called on the Commission to reject the proposals, saying that "in many important respects, the proposed changes would make things considerably worse."

Google is keen to portray the Commission's acceptance of its proposals as a fait accompli, she said. Indeed, Google has been in talks with the Commission over these proposals for many months and the decision to put them to a market test will not have been taken lightly.

If the Commission finds that the commitments offered by Google are sufficient, it will impose them legally and appoint an independent monitoring trustee to ensure they are properly implemented. However, if the remedies are not deemed sufficient, the Commission could still fine the company up to 10 percent of its annual global revenue.

Google also faces a separate antitrust complaint from ICOMP that it achieved dominance "by illegally blocking rival search engines' access to customers" as well as complaints from FairSearch, a group of 17 companies including Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle, that it was using Android to promote its own smartphone applications.

TripAdvisor and Expedia also complained to the Commission that Google was using their content without permission in its results -- a practice known as content scraping. In its proposals, Google said that it will introduce rules to allow companies to opt in or out of having their content shown.

Finally, some complainants claim that Google ties in advertisers and makes it impossible for them to move their advertising to other platforms. In its proposed remedies, Google promised to remove these clauses from its contracts for five years.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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Tags antitrustFoundemGoogleregulationlegalgovernmentinternetsearch engines

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Jennifer Baker

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