Back in July, we heard that the European Commission was waiting for Google to revise earlier proposals it made to resolve an ongoing antitrust probe related to its search business. Now, word is out that in order to avoid a potential $5 billion fine and try once again to get this thing resolved, Google has offered further concessions to the Commission.
Not much is known about what else Google is offering to do yet. Reuters shares a statement from a spokesperson for the EU, saying that the Commission has received the proposal, and is assessing it, as well as a canned statement from Google saying that it addresses “their four areas of concern,” and the usual, “We continue to work with the Commission…”
From Google’s perspective, the company’s previous proposal also addressed the four concerns, so there’s no telling if it will be good enough this time.
Google’s initial proposal included the labeling of promoted links, offering an opt-out option for its vertical search services, stopping the inclusion of obligations for partners to source online ads exclusively to Google, and no longer imposing obligations preventing advertisers from managing search campaigns across competing ad platforms.
Google gave itself the proverbial ‘atta boy’ in a blog post after the end of a market test of the proposal, which was not good enough for Google’s opponents.
“Our proposals are meaningful and comprehensive, providing additional choice and information while also leaving room for future innovation,” Google SVP and General Counsel Kent Walker wrote at the time. “As we’ve always said, we build Google for users, not websites. And we don’t want to hamper the very innovations that people like best about Google’s services. That’s why we focused on addressing the Commission’s specific concerns, and we think we did a pretty good job.”
“The Internet is the greatest level playing field ever,” he said. “More and more, people are voting with their feet (or at least their cursors), getting information from apps, general and specialised search engines, social networks, and a multitude of websites. That free flow of information means that millions of websites (including ours) now compete directly for business, bringing you more information, lower prices, and more choice. We very much appreciate the Commission’s professionalism and integrity throughout this process, and look forward to reaching a sensible solution.”
The wait-and-see game continues. Both the Commission and Google would not doubt like to put this thing behind them, but the Commission has already proven to be a tougher regulator in this area than its counterpart in the U.S.
Image: European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia (nuevaeconomiaforum via YouTube)