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Google will tweak search results in deal to end EU investigation

Three year investigation might be over
Mon Apr 15 2013, 10:21
Google logo (Robert Scoble Flickr)

INTERNET SEARCH GIANT Google reportedly has reached a deal with European Union (EU) regulators regarding its so-called anticompetitive search practices.

The European Commission (EC) has been investigating Google's alleged "anticompetitive" internet search service since 2010, after a number of companies lead by Microsoft complained that Google was abusing its dominant position in the internet search market.

However, it looks like the three-year investigation could be over, as Google apparently has agreed to make legally binding changes to its search results, the New York Times reported, which apparently have been accepted by the EC. This follows a report from Friday which claims the investigation was coming to an end

According to "two people briefed on the agreement," the agreement means that Google must clearly label search results for its own services such as Google News or Google+, but it won't involve any changes to Google's search algorithm.

The biggest change reportedly will involve search results related to shopping and travel, based on complaints from firms like Yelp and Tripadvisor that claimed Google favoured its own services in search results.

These changes will not be rolled out for a month, according to the report, as Google first has to go through market testing. Once the changes are implemented, however, Google apparently will avoid a formal rebuke from the EC and won't be ordered to pay a fine, which might disappoint those that complained.

Google refused to comment on the report, but a spokesperson for the firm told the New York Times, "Google continues to work cooperatively with the European Commission."

While tweaking its search engine results may put an end to the EU's investigation into Google's search practices, that isn't the only trouble the firm is in at the moment.

Last week, Fairsearch Europe - a group whose members include Microsost, Nokia and Oracle - launched an attack on Google for alleged anticompetitive practices on its Android mobile operating system. The group claimed that Google favours its own apps over others, placing them in prominent places on Android phones and tablets.

Last week Streetmap also went after Google. The mapping service claimed Google is giving its own Maps service preferential treatment, although this could all change when Google rolls out its tweaked search results. µ


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