Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the search engine is open to working with the European Commission to resolve complaints it violated antitrust laws. Remedies could include search-algorithm changes.
Eric Schmidt said the company may be open to tweaking its search algorithm as
it seeks to head off an investigation by the European Commission, which is
looking into whether the search engine violated competition law.
his CEO title
to co-founder Larry Page in April, told The Sunday Telegraph
that Google did
not want to become mired in an antitrust investigation where it could end up
paying billions of dollars in fines.
it is in our interests and I would hope in their interests to do a quick
analysis of concerns that have been raised by competitors. Hopefully, they are
minor or they are not correct, and we'll find out and make sure we are
operating well within the law and the spirit of the law," Schmidt told the
comments came before Reuters reported
that Google and the Commission are reportedly in tentative talks to resolve any
The news comes
a few months after the Commission vowed
to investigate complaints by Foundem, eJustice and Microsoft's Ciao that Google
was abusing its position as the world's leading search engine by favoring its
own Web services over that of rival-product comparison Websites.
investigations can take several months, and can result in painful proceedings
and fines, as Microsoft learned in the early part of last decade when the
Commission fined it more than 1 billion dollars for violating competition laws
for bundling software.
to avoid consuming the legal resources, time and money, and Schmidt told the Telegraph
he hoped the Commission
devised remedies for Google to weigh.
said Google, which is very protective of its search technology, could be
willing to alter its search algorithm so long as it serves the company's 1
billion-plus searchers without inviting more spam.
Search Engine Land noted
that altering the algorithm in any significant way could trigger additional
concerns for regulators in Europe and the U.S., where the government is more
concerned with Google's privacy transgressions than it is about its search-engine
Schmidt's comments are official company statements, a Google spokesperson
downplayed them, referring to the company's statement from November when it
conceded the Commission was investigating it over complaints from competitors.
started Google, we have worked hard to do the right thing by our users and our
industry-ensuring that ads are always clearly marked, making it easy for users
to take their data with them when they switch services and investing heavily in
open-source projects," the spokesperson said.
there's always going to be room for improvement, and so we'll be working with
the Commission to address any concerns."