EU regulators warm up to Google's antitrust concessions

EU regulators warm up to Google's antitrust concessions

Summary: Google and the EU are closer to settling an ongoing antitrust case that could see the search giant avoid hefty fines in the region.

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TOPICS: EU, Google
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Google and EU antitrust regulators have agreed on the "outlines of a settlement" that could see the search giant avoid a fine that could set it back billions of dollars, says the Financial Times of London.

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Only days after the EU wanted search -- and every other Google platform, mobile or otherwise -- included in the deal, Google was quick to amend its offer and include its non-desktop platforms in the proposed settlement.

Not doing so would have threatened the potential settlement and likely push the EU into offering its own full force of the law.

"The breakthrough came after Google said it would in principle extend the remedies it had offered to make for PC-based search to cover mobile search services too," the newspaper said, showing Google's willingness to appease European authorities in Brussels; a move not seen in at least my living memory. 

There's still a distance to go before the deal can be finalized, but should Google play it straight and not antagonize EU authorities any further, a final settlement could be agreed upon by the end of the month.

But the details of the settlement are not yet known. 

There are four areas of conflict rubbing European regulators up the wrong way -- which can be found here -- following a stern letter of objections from EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia to Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt earlier this year.

The details of the letter were also not disclosed, but Schmidt replied promptly addressing such concerns, making headway with the Brussels bureaucrat.

Almunia is thought to have agreed that Google's concessions were enough to push past a full-blown antitrust investigation -- which Google could be fined up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover, close to $4 billion -- but will likely instead hand down an offer that will force the search giant into complying with EU law in future, along with other business restrictions. 

Google reiterated its previous statement, not confirming the report, saying: "We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission."

An EU spokesperson for competition policy said the regulators have "reached a good level of understanding with Google based on its proposals," and noted that discussions "at technical level" will soon be held. 

"Don't be evil;" Google's motto back in the day of search innocence. Feel free to back that up with a pre-charge "guilty" plea. 

Topics: EU, Google

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  • gfhartre

    http://href.la/avO
    linzhaneh
    • Spam alert !

      This P.O.S. is a spammer !
      hkommedal
  • Google = thief

    Copying other competiting sites content to its own database and promoting its own product thru cooked search results for filling its pocket with cash.... What shall One call them...errr... "thiefs in suits"
    owllnet
    • Seriously?

      Do you not know what the term 'stealing' or 'thief' even means in this context?

      If you own a cell phone, and I take it, that is theft. You had a physical object, but now you don't, and I have it instead.

      If you write a book and publish it online in some sort of ebook format, requiring people to pay for it to download, and I copy the file several times and hand it out to friends, that is also theft. My friends are not paying for it, and you're losing money.

      Note that if I copy it several times so I can keep them all on my own devices, and do NOT hand them out to friends, that is NOT theft. I paid for the book, and unlike with physical books, it did not cost you extra to produce/manufacture them.

      Now, if you decide to publish your book as a web page, and you do NOT put up any sort of server-side security to force people to sign up and pay in order to log in and read it, now Google can of course read and index your book.

      But here's the interesting part: so can EVERYONE ELSE. You're not losing any money, because nobody is paying to begin with. Your work is still copyrighted (not public domain), but of course nobody has to pay to view it. And as such, you aren't losing money.

      If you have a "you can't view it unless you sign in and pay for it" system, Google cannot index it (as Google, along with everyone else, cannot access it).

      Now, here's where things get interesting. Say that you put your book online, and you have ads on the sides in order to generate revenue from people going to your book's website. In this way, as more people go to your website and read your book, you make more money when they see the ads on the sides.

      And here is the brilliant part. Google, yes, will index your book. Yes technically, if people read the book without going to your site, you are losing money (ad revenue). But! Google will lead people TO YOUR SITE! And their algorithms are generally good enough that anyone else who may have copied the contents of your book will NOT show up as the first result; the true original author, however, will.

      So, yes, Google copied your publicly published book in their index. However, they only use this to give better search results, and in that way, this helps people come to your website to see your ads to give YOU money.

      On top of it, you can use Google Ads directly. The people who put ads on there pay Google to do so, and hopefully get more business so that they make more money. You who puts Google Ads on your website get paid by those people also; especially if anyone clicks on one of those ads, you get money for each click.

      So in this way, Google is in fact helping you make money directly with their own services! And of course will be making money themselves as well. So of COURSE they will want your website on top, so that you BOTH win!
      Tynach
    • Re; What shall One call them...errr..

      @owllnet

      You have really lost it !

      Will you also blame "Yellow pages" and the phone book ?

      That is the ONLY logical way foreward according to what you spew.
      hkommedal
  • Competent lawyers

    Google's management seem to be getting advice from competent lawyers. Co-operation is the only sensible approach in these sorts of investigations. The best counter-example is Microsoft, where either the lawyers are inept or the managers don't listen to them. The result is huge fines and considerable ill will.

    The best solution to Google's dominance in web and mobile search/advertising is competition. With luck, Apple and Microsoft will continue to invest (in Siri, Bing, etc.) and will eventually break Google's dominance. In the mean time, constraining Google's behaviour to prevent illegal use of search/advertising dominance to create dominance in other markets is essential.
    WilErz
  • Re; Co-operation is the only sensible approach . . .

    That is usually quite obvious.

    However not everybody is capable of seeing the obvious.

    Some even refuse to see it.
    hkommedal