Browser Choice not coming to Asia

No legal action from Opera for Browser Choice screen to be implemented in Asia-Pacific, while Mozilla's Open to Choice campaign stays within Europe.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Opera Software, the chief complainant in the European Commission browser case against Microsoft, will not be pushing for a similar action in the Asia-Pacific region. Mozilla Foundation's Open to Choice campaign will not be "explicitly promoted" here, either.

In an e-mail interview with ZDNet Asia, an Opera spokesperson said that though it is a member of the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), it has "not taken a further decision" to lobby for browser choice in the Asia-Pacific region. The ECIS had last Tuesday released a statement (PDF) to urge antitrust agencies around the world to implement Browser Choice in their countries.

Firefox creator Mozilla is now running the Open to Choice campaign to increase awareness of Browser Choice among European users. Gen Kanai, director of Asia business development for Mozilla, told ZDNet Asia the campaign will be focused on the EU region, although it would not preclude future activities within Asia Pacific.

In an e-mail interview, London-based Ovum senior analyst Mike Davis said it is "unlikely" Microsoft will be required to implement Browser Choice in the Asia-Pacific region, as there is no single body such as the European Commission to ensure a single market across a group of countries.

However, he added that individual countries, potentially Australia, may decide to take action on a unilateral basis.

Thomas Vinje, ECIS legal counsel and spokesman, said in a phone interview with ZDNet Asia that individual countries in Asia Pacific have competition authorities empowered to pursue Browser Choice in their home base.

Countries such as Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan have competition authorities, he noted. He added that ECIS will be able to assist such agencies in legal analysis upon request.

When asked about ECIS' push for Browser Choice worldwide, a Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail: "We are committed to addressing the European Commission's competition law concerns within the European Economic Area, and we are committed to complying with the laws and regulations of the other jurisdictions around the world, which sometimes are not consistent from one jurisdiction to another."

In 2007, Opera filed an antitrust complaint to the European Commission, saying Microsoft was abusing its dominant position by bundling the Internet Explorer browser together with the Windows operating systems.

After years of litigation, the European Commission accepted Microsoft's proposal to offer a Browser Choice ballot screen to its users as alternatives to Internet Explorer.

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