EU's patience is running out, as massive antitrust fines loom over Google

EU's patience is running out, as massive antitrust fines loom over Google

Summary: The European antitrust chief is tapping his foot. He's still not at all happy with Google.

TOPICS: Google, EU

Google's latest settlement package from October still isn't enough to appease regulators, who are eyeing a $5 billion fine or a partial block of its business in the 28 member state bloc as a backup last resort.

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Google faces partial ban in Europe if antitrust talks crash

Google faces partial ban in Europe if antitrust talks crash

The search giant may face difficult times ahead if it doesn't solve its European antitrust matters now, such as having parts of its business blocked in the 28 member state bloc.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Friday, according to Reuters, that Google's latest concessions "are not proposals that can eliminate our concerns regarding competition."

He described the package as "not acceptable," speaking during a Spanish radio interview.

The world's largest search engine, with about 90 percent search share in Europe alone, recently promised to show competing links and results in its search pages in efforts to appease regulators and rivals — including Microsoft and Expedia — which both said after the package details leaked that the offer was not enough.

Almunia said, according to Bloomberg's transcript of the radio interview, that the current offer fails to quash concerns of how rivals' results "in vertical search" are "being treated."

Google faces a partial ban in Europe should antitrust talks crash, which is looking increasingly likely after the near half-dozen bouts of to'ing and fro'ing between the search giant and the European executive body.

Failing that, the European Commission always has a 10 percent financial penalty of a company's global revenue up its sleeve, which for Google could amount to as much as $5 billion.

Though in the recent case of breaking Spanish data protection and privacy law, it took Google about 3 minutes to recoup the loss from the $1.23 million fine it was dished out, the search company might take a $5 billion financial hit a little more seriously.

Topics: Google, EU

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  • EC should shut up!

    and stop bullying google on behalf of the axis of evil software: M$, apple & oracle.
    Any fine will prompt riots in the streets of Europe and FOSS devs will retaliate too!
    The US congress should speak out and the president should threaten EU with sanctions Iran style!
    LlNUX Geek
    • And

      the $731 Million fine for Microsoft earlier this year? I suppose that teh axis of evil Google, Apple & Oracle?
    • They're just jealous...

      The EU can't create hugely successful innovations so they sue their way into the rewards. Parasites.
      Dick Rochester
      • I've seen that one before... comments regarding critics of another successful company whose name I need not mention. Perhaps this is a feeble attempt at parody?
        John L. Ries
    • It is truly amazing... with every post you present yourself as more...and more...of an arsehole.
    • LINUX Geek

      What drug are you on boy? Because it's not doing you a world of good.
    • Come now, Linux Freek

      Isn't it past your bed time....?
  • Big Brother is watching

    All hail Google! All hail Google!

    Well, at least Google give us free stuff we can actually use in exchange for spying on us, stealing our personal info and selling it to the highest bidder.

    When the NSA does it, we get nothing plus if we act out enough to catch their attention those men in the black suburban with the tinted windows come, haul us away, and subject us to anal probing and other such indignities

    All Hail Google!

    Soon they will have a microchip that is surgically inserted into your eyeball that does everything Google Glass does and more.

    Get your tinfoil hat here folks
  • Trustbusters all over the world need to after Google

    "Standard Oil Co. Inc. was an American oil producing, transporting, refining, and marketing company. Established in 1870 as a corporation in Ohio, it was the largest oil refiner in the world. Its controversial history as one of the world's first and largest multinational corporations ended in 1911, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that Standard was an illegal monopoly.

    Standard Oil dominated the oil products market initially through horizontal integration in the refining sector, then, in later years vertical integration; the company was an innovator in the development of the business trust. The Standard Oil trust streamlined production and logistics, lowered costs, and undercut competitors. "Trust-busting" critics accused Standard Oil of using aggressive pricing to destroy competitors and form a monopoly that threatened consumers.

    Standard's actions and secret transport deals helped its kerosene price to drop from 58 to 26 cents from 1865 to 1870. Competitors disliked the company's business practices, but consumers liked the lower prices. Standard Oil, being formed well before the discovery of the Spindletop oil field and a demand for oil other than for heat and light, was well placed to control the growth of the oil business. The company was perceived to own and control all aspects of the trade.

    The government identified four illegal patterns: 1) secret and semi-secret railroad rates; (2) discriminations in the open arrangement of rates; (3) discriminations in classification and rules of shipment; (4) discriminations in the treatment of private tank cars. The government alleged:

    "Almost everywhere the rates from the shipping points used exclusively, or almost exclusively, by the Standard are relatively lower than the rates from the shipping points of its competitors. Rates have been made low to let the Standard into markets, or they have been made high to keep its competitors out of markets. Trifling differences in distances are made an excuse for large differences in rates favorable to the Standard Oil Co., while large differences in distances are ignored where they are against the Standard. Sometimes connecting roads prorate on oil—that is, make through rates which are lower than the combination of local rates; sometimes they refuse to prorate; but in either case the result of their policy is to favor the Standard Oil Co. Different methods are used in different places and under different conditions, but the net result is that from Maine to California the general arrangement of open rates on petroleum oil is such as to give the Standard an unreasonable advantage over its competitors"

    The government said that Standard raised prices to its monopolistic customers but lowered them to hurt competitors, often disguising its illegal actions by using bogus supposedly independent companies it controlled.

    "The evidence is, in fact, absolutely conclusive that the Standard Oil Co. charges altogether excessive prices where it meets no competition, and particularly where there is little likelihood of competitors entering the field, and that, on the other hand, where competition is active, it frequently cuts prices to a point which leaves even the Standard little or no profit, and which more often leaves no profit to the competitor, whose costs are ordinarily somewhat higher."

    On May 15, 1911, the US Supreme Court upheld the lower court judgment and declared the Standard Oil group to be an "unreasonable" monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act, Section II. It ordered Standard to break up into 90 independent companies with different boards of directors, the biggest two of the companies were Standard Oil of New Jersey (which became Exxon) and Standard Oil of New York (which became Mobil)."

    The above are excerpts from the article you are taken to by the following link:

    My beef with Google, is that it is an illegal monopoly which lowers the price of software in many markets to zero, eliminating many competitors. Just like with Standard Oil, consumers love Google's lower pricing (actually zero pricing, which is far worse). Google's influence makes it all but impossible for many smaller software companies to make money in the consumer market, and should it gain a presence in the enterprise market, would decimate that market. Google devalues software directly in the mobile OS market, office productivity market, software development systems market, etc. This stinging devaluation of software in these major markets, bleeds over to almost all software in the consumer market, adversely affecting ISVs ability to make money.

    I believe trust busters in the US, Europe, and other regions, should take a serious look at Google's onerous monopolistic practices.
    P. Douglas
    • Replace Standard Oil with ATT or Verizon Broadband

      Honestly, at least Google provides useful products and they have a software incubator program far beyond what a traditional entrepreneur market could support.

      How about we break up the broadband monopoly before we start busting Googles balls? If it really irks you, we can put them right after the broadband monolith every American Family is a victim.
      Tommy Gilley
    • Really, Google Free?? Really?

      I'm sorry, but Google is not free.
      1) Check out their Terms of Use or their EULA. Without consumers analytics doesn't exist.
      2) So free Google, I guess I can buy as many ad words as I want then, (he typed sarcastically), No I can't buy ad words for nothing, that's why I have to buy them, and actually they are priced opposite Standard. If there are a lot of people who want to buy them the price goes up, less the price goes down.
      3) Oh so, P. Douglas must have been talking about Google Play where I can d/l my apps for free, Oh wait nope can't do that either. Wait whats that? Oh it was a little bird that told me apps are priced out by designers and Google takes a fee, but I thought Google was free.
      4) Ok, I'm sorry you must have been talking about Google Earth, that's the free thing, yep I got it. Your right Google Earth is free, oh wait though, why can't I use that feature, oh yeah because it cost $400.00 for the full version, no matter what country I live in.

      Everything Google does has a value and a price. They are two things:
      A) They are Data Miners
      B) They are Data Traders

      They find the best and most innovative ways to make, use and harvest Data, which leads to them finding better ways to make, use and harvest Data. This is like Moore's Law.

      As an example, when Intel and TI started making chips, they made chips that made smaller chips that made faster chips that again made smaller and faster chips. This cycle created the biggest Oligopoly yet. Two giants, who still make far more than 50% of the total chips manufactured. The idea is not that they dominated the capital of the markets, but instead the technology and production models. Because they were the first ones to do it and because they continue to innovate they continue to dominate the market because no one else has yet reached their level of technology, efficiency and innovation. In fact I believe Google may have taken a page from these other Corporate Technological Giants.

      Google is not a monopoly by choice, quite simply they dominate the market because no one else has properly tried. Microsoft is spread thin and losing its grasp on specific markets it can no longer spread money into due to competition in other industries (PS4 vs Xbox One). And while Expedia is positioned as a travel guide, Google is a band of data miners. I am sure that there will be another search engine at some point in the future, but right now Google has the edge because the data it delivers is more useful than any other. Google doesn't simply use advertisers to make money, the information they receive is far more valuable to their copper than anything else. When we search for things in Google we do it because we know this is the engine capable of delivering the information most important to us. However, Google is flawed because, generally it can only deliver data through search terms outside of categories, but soon (as Web 2.0 continues to improve) sites will have more detailed and categorized information. In essence more things will be considered News or Science or Popular, based on not only content, web location and hits, but also user preferences and ratings. As the users become more adapt to using the web the ways we search it will become more detailed and specific. Soon we will not accept that there are no relevant pages related to our search terms. As this day approaches Google will begin to face competition from web savvy users and at home super computers (as well as any corporate giant who wants to spend the time and effort).

      One day I imagine we will expect to be able to find out all the 5Ws and H of any topic or just the who simply by describing a few basic pieces of information. We already do this with song lyrics, popular shows, movies and commercials. Its only years away before we will expect this same accuracy for a tree in the woods. When this is the refinement users demand and expect, the Web Wars will go from ad words and searah results to specifics, accuracy and user preference (rather than geographic preference).
      Michael Eza
    • "...would decimate that market. ..."?

      Devastate, obliterate, and the like not decimate, recall deci as tenth.
      • Note the link

        Note the following link.
        P. Douglas
    • So your complaint is...

      ...that Google provides free software? Will it be in a position to raise its prices once MS files a Chapter 7?
      John L. Ries
  • EU's patience is running out, as massive antitrust fines loom over Google

    No reason to wait, just fine Google a huge sum like they did to other American companies.
    • Very likely the fine will fail.

      There are no grounds for the fine. Google isn't a monopoly.
      • In Eurpe

        they generally have way north of 90% market share in search, which is a monopoly on anybody's books. They use that to leverage in other areas, such as advertising, mail, apps, etc.

        That is the problem. if they only had 50 - 60% of the market, the monopolies commission wouldn't have anything tominvestigate.

        they also have a poor record for observing privacy laws.
  • I don't get it...

    What other business is required by law to promote their competitors? If I go to the dealership to buy a Nissan, is the car salesman required to tell my how awesome Fords are? If Google's competitors want more attention, let them build a better search engine.
    • Nissan

      doesn't have over 90 dealerships for 1 dealership from all other manufacturers combined and there aren't over 90 Nissans in every 100 vehicles on the road. That is the difference.

      Google is also a little different, they are make most of their money through advertising, so it makes sense to penalise them through this route plus a smaller fine, than just a huge fine.

      Microsoft was also caught abusing its position (making hardware manufacturers pay a licence fee for PCs sold without any MS software installed, because 'people could instakk MS software on them'.

      Other companies over the years have also been hit this way, like Standard ,entioned above, or IBM in the 70s and 80s.
  • Switch to privacy

    There's no doubt that google is one of the most harmful companies ever to have existed. The way they have eroded our privacy, and made us think that there is no alternative have been unprecedented. The truth is that there are lots of great privacy-based services that in many ways are better than google products. These include: DuckDuckGo, Ravetree, HushMail, and OpenStreetMaps. We should all be promoting these services while informing our friends and family about the harm done by google.