EC pressed to charge Google in antitrust case

Google should be charged to force it to take adequate remedies against its anti-competitive behavior, the complainants said

Eleven complainants sent an open letter to European Union's Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia urging him to formally charge Google with breaching competition law.

"The Commission opened proceedings more than two years ago, and we are becoming increasingly concerned that effective and future-proof remedies might not emerge through settlement discussions alone," the complainants wrote to Almunia on Thursday. Among them are U.K. search engine Foundem, which was involved in the first round of complaints, online shopping platform Twenga, travel site TripAdvisor, the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and the German Federation of Magazine Publishers (VDZ).

Google has been under investigation by the Commission since November 2010, after competitors accused Google of favoring its own services by reducing the visibility of competing services.

There are two equally important aspects to Google's search manipulation practices, the complainants said: Google's promotion of its own services and the systematic demotion and exclusion of the services of others. "Any effective remedies will require explicit commitments to end both aspects," they said, adding that remedying one without remedying the other would simply allow Google to recalibrate the un-remedied practice in order to achieve the same or equivalent anti-competitive effect.

"Google must be even-handed. It must hold all services, including its own, to exactly the same standards, using exactly the same crawling, indexing, ranking, display, and penalty algorithms," the complainants wrote.

To force Google to do this, Almunia should officially charge Google with anti-competitive behavior, they said. "Google's past behavior suggests that it is unlikely to volunteer effective, future-proof remedies without being formally charged with infringement. Given this, and the fact that Google has exploited every delay to further entrench, extend, and escalate its anti-competitive activities, we urge the Commission to issue the Statement of Objections," they wrote.

A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission investigations when the Commission informs the parties concerned allowing them to reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present comments. After this, the Commission can make a final decision. If it decides that there is sufficient evidence of wrong-doing, it can issue a decision prohibiting the conduct and impose a fine of up to 10 percent of a company's annual worldwide revenue.

On February 1, the Commission said it had received a proposal from Google to settle the antitrust investigation. Both Google and the Commission declined to disclose what was proposed, and the Commission said it needed time to analyze the proposal. According to reports at the time, the proposal was similar to a settlement Google struck with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and involves Google sharing more information through its advertising APIs (application programming interfaces) and agreeing not to scrape Web content from rivals.

"We will respectfully withhold judgement on Google's proposed commitments until we have seen them," the complainants wrote.

Google declined to comment on the complainants' allegations. "We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission," Google spokesman Mark Jansen said in an email.

European Commission representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags antitrustFoundemlegalTwengaJoaquín AlmuniaFederation of German Newspaper Publishersinternetsearch enginesGerman Federation of Magazine PublishersMark JansenGoogletripadvisor

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?