Google Could Face Massive Fine Over Antitrust Complaint in Europe
Google may face a fine “up to 10% of its annual turnover” if a report from dealReporter, published by Financial Times is accurate.
That is, reportedly, if Google can’t settle with the European Commission in an antitrust investigation stemming from complaints initially made by search engines Ciao, Foundem and eJustice, but which also now include perspectives from 1plusV, VfT, Elfvoetbal, Hotmaps, Interactive Labs, nnpt.it, dealdujour.pro, and of course Microsoft. Twenga is also expected to file a complaint.
The report indicates, based on “sources close to the case,” that the EC will issue a 400-page statement of objections covering the allegations of Google’s “abuse of dominance”.
Yes, 400 pages.
Google Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt, the report says, is expected to meet with Commissioner Joaquín Almunia to discuss Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility,which raises a whole other slew of questions about Google’s competitive practices outside of the search industry (though there is certainly plenty of crossover).
Google has of course faced plenty of scrutiny here in the states regarding its competitive practices. That includes hearings with the Senate Antitrust Committee and scrutiny from the DoJ and FTC.
In June, the company put out a blog post discussing five principles that “will stand up” to scrutiny related to competition. The post was in response to the FTC, but the points summarize Google’s general view of the topic:
- Do what’s best for the user. We make hundreds of changes to our algorithms every year to improve your search experience. Not every website can come out at the top of the page, or even appear on the first page of our search results.
- Provide the most relevant answers as quickly as possible. Today, when you type “weather in Chicago” or “how many feet in a mile” into our search box, you get the answers directly—often before you hit “enter”. And we’re always trying to figure out new ways to answer even more complicated questions just as clearly and quickly. Advertisements offer useful information, too, which is why we also work hard to ensure that our ads are relevant to you.
- Label advertisements clearly. Google always distinguishes advertisements from our organic search results. As we experiment with new ad formats and new types of content, we will continue to be transparent about what is an ad and what isn’t.
- Be transparent. We share more information about how our rankings work than any other search engine, through our Webmaster Central site, blog, diagnostic tools,support forum, and YouTube. We also give advertisers detailed information about thead auction and tips to improve their ad quality scores. We’ve recently introduced even more transparency tools, announcing a major change to our algorithm, providing morenotice when a website is demoted due to spam violations, and giving advertisers new information about ads that break our rules.
- Loyalty, not lock-in. We firmly believe you control your data, so we have a team of engineers whose only goal is to help you take your information with you. We want you to stay with us because we’re innovating and making our products better—not because you’re locked in.
And of course, Google always like to play the “competition is only a click away” card.