Google could face massive fines from EU in antitrust case

December 20, 2013

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    Google doesn’t have much time left to find a way to settle antitrust allegations from the European Union before it’s hit with a massive fine.

    The EU started investigating Google for possible antitrust activities back in 2010 when it accused the company of giving priority to its own services in search results. Google Search, the EU argued, unfairly down-ranked services from competitors.

    Google submitted several proposals to the EU in an effort to resolve the dispute. The most recent proposal included labeling links of Google services like Shopping in search results so everyone can see when a Google service is promoted over a competitor. Every proposal was rejected by the EU, though, with antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia saying they “are not acceptable in the sense that they are not proposals that can eliminate our concerns regarding competition.”

    The latest proposals are not acceptable in the sense that they are not proposals that can eliminate our concerns regarding competition

    There is still some time for Google to submit a proposal that will satisfy Almunia and the rest of the EU. If it can’t find something that works in time it could be hit with a $5 billion fine by the commission. It’s not clear if there will be any other actions taken against Google if it can’t submit a workable solution.

    The EU wants to close the case against Google sometime in the spring of 2014, about four years after it started. That seems like a long time, but these sorts of investigations often take considerable time, and the EU isn’t exactly known to be the speediest bureaucracy. Still, it seems Google is down to the wire here with very little time left to make everyone happy.

    Do you think Google will be able to find a way to avoid the fine from the EU? Have they operated in an unfair manner?

    Comments

    • MadCowOnAStick

      Just when I thought EU was being awesome requiring a common charging cable!

    • MasterMuffin

      I bet EU just needs money. After Google has paid them, Google can continue doing the same because EU really only cares about the money

    • Shark Bait

      I don’t get why it’s such a big deal that they prioritise their own product’s. That business , you don’t advertise your competitors do you? It would be like walking into an Audi show room and them saying have this BMW instead !

      • number29

        It’s only an issue when you have a dominant position in a market. Google has a very dominant position in the search market and it can’t use that position to influence other unrelated markets. That’s what the EU are accusing Google to have done.

        • NeedName

          but that’s the ridiculous thing. That’s like saying, the best restaurant in town should advertise their competitors because everyone goes there — so McDonalds should advertise Burger King?

          Google’s search engine is a web site people go to, unlike going into a store for a computer and only having access to a Windows computer, you have a choice to which website you choose to go to and no one is hindering that choice.

          And MS is the one crying about the issue. . . Fuck MS!!!

          • number29

            Choice isn’t relevant, it’s whether you have a dominant position in the market that matters. And Google certainly has a dominant position in search, hence the close scrutiny over anti-competitive tactics.

            • NeedName

              My point is, a web site can’t have a dominant position. It’s not something people must have or have no choice in avoiding/using. And choice is absolutely relevant!

              The definition of a “monopoly” is,
              “the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service”

              In other words, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE.

              I fail to see how Google has any control whatsoever as to people going to their website or even changing the search engine in browsers — considering MS sells the most computers and people use IE on them with Bing as the default preloaded.

              Google doesn’t have exclusive possession or control of anything. Can I search for websites/info on other search engines? Absofreakinlutely! Do they control’s IE’s default search engine? Nope! Do they control what search engine apple uses? No.

              Where is the “exclusive possession or control” here?

              People showing up at your doorstep because they like you is NOT control or exclusive possession by any stretch of the imagination.

              This is nothing more than a witch hunt lead my Microsoft. How about they build a better search engine instead of always being three months behind?

              /rant

            • number29

              It’s not relevant whether people have gone there by choice or not. What’s relevant is that most people go to Google, so Google cannot use that dominant position to distort unrelated markets, which is what this investigation is about.

    • Chin Huat Tan

      Google is getting to be arrogant. They deserved to be kicked in the arse. Somebody must make them toe the line. And I was thinking only Microsoft is evil.

      • NeedName

        You do realize Microsoft is the one behind all of this?

        I fail to see Google has a monopoly for search — how a website can be a monopoly boggles my mind. Anyone can go to ‘bing’ if they want on any platform they want to use. Not exactly the same types of “monopolies” MS has/had — OEM+Windows, Intel+Windows, Office/proprietary document formats, etc. . .

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