Google Faces $6bn Fine If It Fails To Settle Search Row With Rivals

News Article - Wednesday, 10 September 2014 10:06

By: Kerry Butters Category: Networking

The European Commission has told Google that it must make more concessions in the pursuit of resolving a four-year antitrust probe into its alleged abuse of the internet search market.

Four areas of the search engine giant’s business operations have come under scrutiny after competitors, such as Microsoft and Expedia have made claims that its domination of the online search market blocks advertisers from moving to competing platforms.

Google’s links to its own services (such as Google Maps and YouTube), restrictions on rival advertising, the difficulty it creates in transferring adverts to other platforms, and the copying of content from rivals have aroused serious concerns in the EC.

Thus far, Google has already improved its offer three times in response to the complaints, but so far talks are still failing.

If talks continue to fail, Google could face a fine equivalent to 10% of its annual revenues, which currently stand in excess of $60bn.

The allegations focus around Google’s alleged discrimination against rivals in search results. Talking to Bloomberg on September 6th, Joaquin Almunia, the European Union’s competition commissioner, said that some of the feed back received was "very, very negative”.

"Some complainants have introduced new arguments, new data, new considerations. So we now need to analyse this and see if we can find solutions, Google can find solutions, to some of these concerns that we find justified,” said Joaquin Almunia.

Alumnia has been seeking voluntary concessions from Google for more than two years in the attempt to avoid such an investigation as this which could lead to fines. Any changes made to the current deal presented by Google would mark a decided U-turn on the part of Alumnia, who has thus far defended the planned settlement despite facing criticism from fellow EU commissioners.

Additional complaints have been filed against Google in recent months from the likes of French and German publishers, as well as Deutsche Telekom AG.

Al Verney, a spokesman for Google, has said: "We continue to work with the [European Commission] to resolve the concerns they have raised.”

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