Settlement talks are in the balance after EC demands proposals cover Android
The European Commission’s antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices has taken a new twist, with the commission wanting to include the Android mobile platform in any settlement.
The Financial Times is reporting that EC competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has made the demand in the closing stages of negotiations and his actions have left the possibility of a settlement in jeopardy.
Both parties have so far indicated a willingness to compromise in order to avoid a lengthy legal battle, but if talks collapse, the EC would be ready to serve its objections within a matter of weeks, raising the possibility of multibillion dollar fines.
Google antitrust negotiations
Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Almunia have been in contact over the last couple of months and the EC gave the search giant a 2 July deadline to submit its proposals to avoid a court case. The contents of Google’s proposals are unknown, but are believed to address the EC’s four main competition concerns, but these do not cover mobile.
The EC says that Google favours its own products in search results, copies content from its rivals such as restaurant reviews, and abuses its dominant position in online advertising.
Google denies any wrongdoing as is looking for a settlement where it would change some of its practices without any admission that it broke the law. It hopes that this would be a precedent for agreements with antitrust authorities in the US and Asia who are also investigating the company.
The latest demand by Almunia could derail the settlement and the EC has asked complainants to supply it with non-confidential versions of information they have submitted during its two-year investigation, an action usually taken when preparing a charge sheet. Almunia is apparently likely to decide whether it is worth persevering with talks next week.
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