Google gets ultimatum over EC antitrust probe

Google gets ultimatum over EC antitrust probe

Summary: The European Commission has given Google the chance to avoid formal proceedings by coming up with remedies to antitrust concerns over page-ranking and advertising

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TOPICS: Government UK, Legal
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The European Commission has given Google a deadline to settle the antitrust concerns it has with the company, or face formal proceedings.

The Commission's concerns centre on four areas: whether Google may have given its search results preferential treatment over competitors; whether it shut off advertising from competing search engines; whether it restricted portability of AdWords ad campaign; and whether it scraped content from competing search engines and presented it as its own results.

The Commission has sent Google chief executive Eric Schmidt a letter asking the company to come up with proposals to remedy the Commission's concerns "in a matter of weeks", competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia said in a speech on Monday.

"Should this process fail to deliver a satisfactory set of remedies, the ongoing formal proceedings will of course continue, including the possible sending of a statement of objections," Almunia said.

However, should Google create a package of proposals that successfully ease the Commission's concerns, the proceedings will not go ahead. Instead, the Commission will take a 'commitment decision', making the proposals into a legally binding undertaking, although any final proposal by Google will be market-tested by complainants before it becomes binding.

"If Google comes up with an outline of remedies which are capable of addressing our concerns, I will instruct my staff to initiate the discussions in order to finalise a remedies package," said Almunia. "This would... solve our concerns by means of a commitment decision — pursuant to Article 9 of the EU Antitrust Regulation — instead of having to pursue formal proceedings with a statement of objections and to adopt a decision imposing fines and remedies."

ZDNet UK understands that the Commission wants to avoid a lengthy legal process, and bring rapid results, after completing its preliminary antitrust investigation into the company.


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Topics: Government UK, Legal

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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