Google Faces Renewed Focus by EU in Antitrust Case
Google could need to agree to additional conditions as part of a proposed antitrust settlement agreement in the EU that has been on the table for five months.For five months, a proposed antitrust settlement deal between Google and European Union regulators has been on the table, but critics have continued to argue that it is not tough enough on Google. Now EU officials may be moving to ask more of Google to settle the case in response to such criticisms. The potential call for additional settlement conditions from Google was reported July 23 in a story by Bloomberg, which said that the search giant "may need to make extra concessions to European Union regulators to rescue an antitrust settlement that faces opposition from technology companies and politicians, a person familiar with the case said." One of the additional conditions from the EU could be that Google would have to change "how data from competing services are displayed along with search results, said the person who asked not to be identified because the decision isn't final," the report said. "Other modifications may include addressing how YouTube content is presented in reply to search requests and changes to a paid auction for rivals to bid on search links, the person said." The still-pending settlement between Google and the EU was announced in February 2014 to resolve an antitrust case that has lingered since November 2010 in Europe, where Google competitors had alleged that Google's search processes unfairly promoted Google's advertisers at the expense of competitors. The proposed settlement, which still faces formal final approval by the EU and its regulatory arm, the European Commission (EC), includes concessions from Google on how it will display competitors' links through the Google search engine. The EU probe had been sought by Google competitors, including Microsoft, Expedia and British search services company Foundem. The pending agreement calls for Google to change its display practices, but not have to pay a fine that could have amounted to as much as $5 billion.
Earlier in July, online restaurant and business review service Yelp joined the list of settlement critics and entered its own objections to the settlement proposal as it stands, according to a recent eWEEK report. A Yelp spokesman previously declined to comment on the company's recent objections to the proposed settlement.