Earlier this month, news came out that the European Union accepted a proposal from Google to settle a lengthy antitrust investigation. Google reportedly agreed to clearly lavel search results from its own properties, and show links from rival search engines. It would also provide sites a way to keep their content out of Google’s specialized search engines, while still leaving content in regular Google results.
The proposal, however, was said to be subject to a market test, so those complaining about Google (mainly its competitors) can provide feedback.
FairSearch, the group of Google competitors that regularly lobbies against Google’s practices, has issued a statement about this so-called “market test”.
“The most important remedy to Google’s abuse of dominance is to require the search monopoly, which controls 94 percent of the market in Europe, to subject its own products and services to the same policy it uses to rank and display all other Websites,” says FairSearch. “Since it has taken a year to extract a final proposal from Google, FairSearch believes the ‘market test’ should last three months to ensure that interested parties have enough time to carefully provide the European Commission with their expertise on the effectiveness of Google’s proposal. As we have said, we will comment on Google’s proposed remedies after the Commission shares them.”
The organization goes on to say:
European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia has set a high bar that any proposal from Google must meet to pre-empt formal proceedings against the company, including:
1) Will it end Google’s diversion of traffic away from other sites through preferential treatment for Google’s own properties?
2) Will it swiftly restore consumers’ access to a truly competitive marketplace for search and related online services?
3) Will an independent third party be able to verify that Google is not circumventing its own proposed commitments?
The coalition says its member intend to study the “effects” of Google’s proposal, and imply they”ll have more suggestions for the search giant. It will be interesting to see how long this drags on.