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EC might demand more from Google in antitrust settlement

Follows 'unprecedented' opposition from technology firms and politicians
Wed Jul 23 2014, 10:46
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THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) reportedly is planning to revisit parts of its antitrust settlement with Google, and could demand more concessions from the internet giant.

That's according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports that the EC's proposed settlement with Google over its alleged "anticompetitive" internet search engine practices has been met with "unprecedented" opposition from rival technology firms including Microsoft, and politicians. Because of this, EU competition chief Joaquín Almunia might look into reopening the settlement with Google for the fourth time, despite having previously said that the firm's concessions were "sufficient".

The Wall Street Journal's sources claim that last year's National Security Agency (NSA) snooping revelations are also a factor in the EC revisiting the case, with one source saying, "The NSA scandal is a factor, US companies are innocent but they have somehow become the poster child for this."

Despite Google having offered to rework its search practices to be less anticompetitive, it is thought that EU regulators might ask the firm to step up its concessions, such as changing the way it displays data from competing services and addressing how Youtube content is presented prominently in its search results.

A spokesman for Google referred to previous comments that the company has made "significant changes to address the commission's concerns, greatly increasing the visibility of rival services and addressing other specific issues."

The sources claim that the EU won't decide what it will do with the antitrust case until September, when it will decide whether to accept Google's settlement offer or demand more from the company.

If EU regulators do decide to accept Google's offer, that doesn't mean that the firm will stay out of court for long. The report adds that the commission is "deepening" its investigation into Google's alleged anticompetitive practices on its Android mobile operating system, although it notes that the EC hasn't decided whether it will launch a formal investigation yet. µ

 

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