EC To Let Google’s Competitors Review Antitrust Proposals

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The EC wants to hear Google’s rivals’ feedback before making a decision

The European Commission (EC) is set to give Google’s rivals four weeks to review the search giant’s latest proposals aimed at settling a three year-old antitrust case and escaping a fine of as much as £3 billion.

Both Google and the EC have been keen to avoid lengthy and expensive legal action over claims that the company is abusing its dominant position in the search engine market to promote its services over those of its rivals, especially with regards to shopping comparison sites and local searches.

Competitors, including Microsoft, rejected Google’s initial proposals, claiming they would only serve to reinforce Google’s control of the market, forcing the EC to seek more concessions.

Google EC antitrust

Google, Android © Lyao Shutterstock 2012The latest proposals would allow Google’s rivals to display their logos and make their links more visible in search results, while advertisers will be allowed to export their campaigns to other platforms. Google has also agreed to appoint an independent trustee to oversee the process.

The lobbying group FairSearch, whose members include Microsoft along with other competitors and companies that have complained about Google’s alleged conduct, had been pushing for a say in whether the EC approves the package of concessions, since they were the ones that apparently suffered from Google’s tactics.

If the EC is unsatisfied by the feedback it receives from the company’s competitors, it could choose to launch antitrust action. A guilty verdict on such charges could mean a fine of up to 10 percent of Google’s annual revenue, which, based on its 2012 annual results, would amount to about $5 billion (£3bn).

Google denies any wrongdoing and 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 set a precedent for agreements with antitrust authorities in the US and Asia which are also investigating the company.

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Originally published on eWeek.

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