Google competition plan ‘not enough’

Google on a tabletGoogle is accused of promoting its own services through its search engine

Google has not done enough to address concerns it is unfairly stifling competition, an EU official has said.

Google stands accused of using its 90% market share of internet search in Europe to promote its own services.

The company has offered to change the way it displays some results to address the worries.

But European Commission competition chief Joaquin Almunia said Google must rethink its response and “present better proposals”.

“I concluded that proposals that Google sent to us months ago are not enough to overcome our concerns,” Mr Almunia said on Wednesday.

In response, Google spokesman Al Verney said the search giant remained committed to settling the case, and that its offer “clearly addresses” the four areas of concern highlighted by the EU.

Huge fine

Those areas of concern, first highlighted in 2010, were:

  • how Google favours its own services in its search results
  • how it displays content from other websites
  • how it manages adverts appearing next to search results
  • how its actions affect marketers’ ability to buy adverts on rival networks

Both sides of the dispute have said they are eager to reach a settlement, but if necessary, the commission could formally file a case – leaving Google open to the prospect of being fined 10% of its annual revenue.

Google submitted in April its proposal to solve the problem. It agreed to display links to rivals close to where it displayed its own services on its results page.

It also offered to more clearly label results from YouTube, Google Maps and its other sites.

But lobby groups from other companies, including Microsoft, disputed the effectiveness of the changes.

“It is clear that mere labelling is not any kind of solution to the competition concerns that have been identified. Google should implement the same ranking policy to all websites,” Microsoft said in April.

Google had also been subject to an earlier US Federal Trade Commission probe into competition issues – which ruled there were no concerns.

BBC News – Technology

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