EU regulators not satisfied by Google's proposed antitrust concessions

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The executive arm of the European Union has indicated that Google will need to do more in order to satisfy an ongoing antitrust case against the search giant.

Google


Google initially submitted its proposed concessions to the European Commission in April. That proposal included the possibility of placing search results for from competing search engines alongside its own results.

But European Competition Commission Joaquin Almunia said at a press conference on Wednesday that Google must make better proposals if it wishes to reach a deal with the commission, according to Reuters.

"I concluded that the proposals that Google sent us are not enough to overcome our concerns, Almunia said.

Google's initial proposals, which didn't go far enough, would also have the company clearly label search results from its own properties, such as Google News and Google Shopping. The company also offered to block as much as 10 percent of its Web content from displaying in Google's search results.

The EU was compelled to investigate whether Google was using its search dominance to promote its own services ahead of competitors. Rival Microsoft was one of the primary complainants, but smaller players such as travel site Expedia, social review site Yelp and British shopping comparison site Foundem also joined the calls for an investigation.

If Google cannot satisfy the EU, the company could face a fine of as much as $5 billion. No deadline has been set, but Almunia indicated he'd like to reach a resolution by the end of the year.

Apple has been working to lessen its reliance on Google since the company started pushing its own Android mobile operating system to compete with Apple's iPhone. Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs felt betrayed by Google.

Apple no longer uses Google Maps data for its native Maps application in iOS, and with this year's release of iOS 7, Microsoft's Bing will become the default search provider for voice-driven queries to its Siri personal assistant software.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Yay.
  • Reply 2 of 56
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,975member


    Evil?  Irrelevant.  Business.

  • Reply 3 of 56
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,660member
    But services are free, right? Free is always better for consumers. /s
  • Reply 4 of 56
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,282member
    It's not at all clear to me what the EU wants Google to adjust in it's search results. Are they suggesting that Google market for Microsoft in a Google Search? That Google change results to be less relevant to the user and instead include more results from other search providers "to be fair"?

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130111/07473421641/do-we-really-want-eu-bureaucrats-deciding-what-google-search-results-should-look-like.shtml
  • Reply 5 of 56
    kpluckkpluck Posts: 500member
    Basically the EU is just a legalized protection racket out to get their pound of flesh. I really wish Google would just say "FU" and pull out of the EU altogether. Maybe if companies stop paying their extortion the EU will change its ways.

    -kpluck
  • Reply 6 of 56
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,975member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    It's not at all clear to me what the EU wants Google to adjust in it's search results. Are they suggesting that Google market for Microsoft in a Google Search? That Google change results to be less relevant to the user and instead include more results from other search providers "to be fair"?



    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130111/07473421641/do-we-really-want-eu-bureaucrats-deciding-what-google-search-results-should-look-like.shtml


     


    Seems pretty clear to me: they want to alleviate concerns that Google is using search results to skew consumer decisions towards other products and services which benefit them.  So prove that the logic used to generate search results is purely based on "relevancy to the user" and doesn't factor in things like "who uses Google for advertising".


     


    But go ahead and deploy the army of commenters/bloggers/tweeters with the party line: the EU wants to dictate your search results.

  • Reply 7 of 56
    $5 billion fine? That's not even half of what they wasted buying a failing handset maker. A $50 billion fine would start to tickle their pain centers....
  • Reply 8 of 56
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,282member
    $5 billion fine? That's not even half of what they wasted buying a failing handset maker. A $50 billion fine would start to tickle their pain centers....

    No doubt, but they already have Google's attention since they're offering concessions. Do you understand what it is the EU doesn't like about what Google is offering to appease them, or what's wrong with the current search results?
  • Reply 9 of 56
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,282member
    auxio wrote: »
    Seems pretty clear to me: they want to alleviate concerns that Google is using search results to skew consumer decisions towards other products and services which benefit them.  

    Since it's clear to you at least, what about Google's offered concessions to the EU doesn't address that? That's part of my confusion.
  • Reply 10 of 56
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,570member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by auxio View Post


    Evil?  Irrelevant.  Business.



     


    Business activity is just another form of human activity, so all the moral considerations that would apply to any human action apply equally to business actions, because corporations don't act, the people running them do. You don't get a pass on bad behavior just by labeling it "business".

  • Reply 11 of 56
    fracfrac Posts: 480member
    kpluck wrote: »
    Basically the EU is just a legalized protection racket out to get their pound of flesh. I really wish Google would just say "FU" and pull out of the EU altogether. Maybe if companies stop paying their extortion the EU will change its ways.

    -kpluck

    Xenophobic much?
    Just what is it that the EU -working on the principle of fair competition, is doing that amounts to extortion?
    Your(I presume) country, America, seems quite capable of irrational behaviour in trade disputes...DOJ for instance. Or is it that you are jealous that the EU made the same allegations against Microsoft as the American courts...but made it stick?
  • Reply 12 of 56
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,820member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    It's not at all clear to me what the EU wants Google to adjust in it's search results. Are they suggesting that Google market for Microsoft in a Google Search? That Google change results to be less relevant to the user and instead include more results from other search providers "to be fair"?



    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130111/07473421641/do-we-really-want-eu-bureaucrats-deciding-what-google-search-results-should-look-like.shtml


     


    No... They want Google to stop prioritizing their services over competitors in search results. It is not in the consumer's best interest to push their services over others, the search results should be based on hits and user ratings, not Google's self-serving needs. It's anti-competitive to build your service from being open and fair only to slowly enter other markets and slowly push out competitors after you've become the de facto standard. Microsoft did the exact same thing in the 90's.

  • Reply 13 of 56
    jgutherjguther Posts: 77member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kpluck View Post



    Basically the EU is just a legalized protection racket out to get their pound of flesh. I really wish Google would just say "FU" and pull out of the EU altogether. Maybe if companies stop paying their extortion the EU will change its ways.



    -kpluck


    You don't seem to know a whole lot about the EU...


     


    The EU has much stronger privacy protection and consumer protection laws than the US, which is a good thing. You want to do business in the EU, you follow EU law. Very simple.


     


    If some American company thinks that those laws do not apply to them, we will prove them wrong. Just like any other country would.


     


    But I agree with you that Google should pull out of the EU. It would be a better place without them. They have been stealing our data, violating our laws and intruding on our lives for too long. I won't shed a tear over them!

  • Reply 14 of 56


    Google persistently tries to be a monopoly and I abominate that. They deserved that antitrust case.

  • Reply 15 of 56
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    I don't like Google's business practices, and I personally think they're abusing the hell out of their market dominance in much the same way Microsoft did, long ago. A body with clout does need to make them amend their ways.

    Having said which, the EU sometimes appears to cross into that magic territory where their actions are driven by the promise of getting sanction moneys more than it is a desire to see companies do right. Maybe they're really in it for the good of their constituents. Sometimes the plaintiffs are the ones being cynical too. Sometimes the compromises are entirely to enable them to put on a hurt expression and say, "Well, we tried. What more do they want?" even though the compromises they proposed were carefully designed to keep the most abusive behavior intact. Microsoft did that in its day, and no doubt many of the concessions Google offered were carefully tailored to impact their corporate advantages as little as possible. I guess it will all play out in the end.
  • Reply 16 of 56
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,570member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post


     


    No... They want Google to stop prioritizing their services over competitors in search results. It is not in the consumer's best interest to push their services over others, the search results should be based on hits and user ratings, not Google's self-serving needs. It's anti-competitive to build your service from being open and fair only to slowly enter other markets and slowly push out competitors after you've become the de facto standard. Microsoft did the exact same thing in the 90's.



     


    Isn't part of the complaint also that Google is stealing information from other sites, like Yelp? Simply saying, "we stole this from yelp," next to the information doesn't do much good, since that's followed by an implied, "... so you don't need to visit their site. Now how 'bout you check out some of our stuff while you're here?"


     


    Of course, I'm sure that GG knows all about this. He's just pretending with his questions that there isn't anything amiss here, which is probably how it was decided to handle the PR spin on this in their strategy meetings.

  • Reply 17 of 56
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,975member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


     


    Business activity is just another form of human activity, so all the moral considerations that would apply to any human action apply equally to business actions, because corporations don't act, the people running them do. You don't get a pass on bad behavior just by labeling it "business".



     


    I was making a joke in regard to the "don't be evil" mantra.  The concepts of good and evil are meaningless in the world of free market capitalism.  What's "evil" one day is a necessary practice to stay competitive the next.  Morality is also subjective based on what religion one practices (in this case, the religion of money).

  • Reply 18 of 56
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,975member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    Since it's clear to you at least, what about Google's offered concessions to the EU doesn't address that? That's part of my confusion.


     


    Plenty of loopholes/workarounds.  Marking search results as being Google content still wouldn't address ranking Google-friendly products and services above others (subsidiaries, heavy advertisers, etc).  Plus it still doesn't change the result ordering (the single most important factor).

  • Reply 19 of 56
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    It's not at all clear to me what the EU wants Google to adjust in it's search results. Are they suggesting that Google market for Microsoft in a Google Search? That Google change results to be less relevant to the user and instead include more results from other search providers "to be fair"?



    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130111/07473421641/do-we-really-want-eu-bureaucrats-deciding-what-google-search-results-should-look-like.shtml


     


    Isn't the issue regarding the fact that Google may be abusing it's near-monopolistic power in search to promote things like Google+ above competitors like Facebook.


     


    If true, clearly this is concerning, and even if not (currently) true, the possibility of abuse is pretty high. I believe they're looking for a way to ensure that Google doesn't abuse it's search power. They must not feel Google's offer is good enough.


     


    In my opinion, search is such a powerful tool that it needs some oversight to avoid conflicts of interest and abuse. Who watches the watchmen, you know? Search effectively controls access to information for most people, and Google's algorithms aren't transparent. If it were up to me, I'd say Google Search should be separated from Google Services.

  • Reply 20 of 56
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by auxio View Post


     


    I was making a joke in regard to the "don't be evil" mantra.  The concepts of good and evil are meaningless in the world of free market capitalism.  What's "evil" one day is a necessary practice to stay competitive the next.  Morality is also subjective based on what religion one practices (in this case, the religion of money).



     


    That's a dangerous view of morals. Beyond religion, most cultures have basic moral codes, such as condemning murder, stealing, etc. 


     


    Justifying everything as "morals are subjective" strikes me as sociopathic. 


     


    I know your point was an action taken by a business may be viewed as evil by some, and fine by others. But labeling all morals as subjective is a dangerous path.

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