Last week, the EU announced that Google had offered what it considered "an improved commitments proposal" to end a three-year antitrust probe without the company having to pay a fine.
While the EU did say it would inform complainants of the reasons it believes the offer is sound, and give them a chance to make their views known, Google competitor coalition FairSearch has spoken out calling the proposal "worse than doing nothing."
The coalition has been critical of the EU not conducting a "market test" as it had done with other versions of Google's proposals. Today, FairSearch has put out another statement:
The proposal has not been made public, but from what has been reported it appears that this solution may be worse for consumers and competitors than doing nothing at all.
To redress Google’s abuse of its dominant position, the proposed commitments reportedly would charge competing “vertical search engines” to display (for example) their travel, accommodation or flight services on a results page in a position where consumers will notice. But Google’s own vertical search services will maintain preeminent positions on the search page and will not have to pay for placement.
This combination of payment and secondary placement will merely reinforce Google’s dominant position at the expense of competitors, pricing them out of the market and reducing consumer choice.
FairSearch urges the Commission not to accept Google's third proposal on good faith, but to make it public so that it can be subjected to testing which will reveal its actual effects on the market, competitors and consumers.
A FairSearch spokesperson tells WebProNews, "The European Commission rejected Google’s first two settlement offers after releasing the full proposals, inviting widespread feedback, and receiving almost universal criticism of the deals from consumer and business groups. It’s noteworthy that the Commission has only released a summary of Google’s latest settlement offer, and says it will limit the feedback it gathers to the 18 formal complainants in the case before deciding to finalize the tentative settlement agreement."
For more on what we actually know about the proposal, read this.
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