No official announcement has been made yet, but reports have come out indicating that Google has settled with the European Commission in a two-year antitrust investigation. This one goes far beyond the settlement the company recently reached with the Federal Trade Commission in the United States.
Under the proposal, as it’s being reported, Google will label its own results, and it will show competitors’ links in cases where it shows its on results. The New York Times reports:
Google will not have to change the algorithm that produces its search results, the people said. Under the proposal, Google agrees to clearly label search results from its own properties, like Google Plus Local or Google News, and in some cases to show links from rival search engines.
In areas where Google does not make money from search results, like weather or news, the company will label the results as Google-owned properties. In areas where Google sells ads, like local business reviews, it will show links to at least three competitors. In areas in which all search results are paid ads, like shopping, Google will auction links to rivals.
Like in the U.S., Google will also have to give sites a way to keep their content from being included in vertical search results while letting them stay in regular search results. According to the Times, sites will be able to keep portions (as much as 10%) of their content out of Google so users are compelled to visit the site. It gives the example of Yelp keeping out business hours.
Additionally, Google is reportedly agreeing to be policed by an unknown third party, and will face fines if it doesn’t comply with the terms. This will go on for five years.
With the proposal, Google will avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle in Europe.
According to Bloomberg, Google competitors aren’t happy with the details of Google’s proposal that have surfaced, despite going significantly further than the concessions made in the U.S.
Last week, FairSearch announced a complaint with the EU claiming that Android gives Google an unfair advantage in search. More on that here.
Last month, Google released an opt-out tool for sites to keep content out of its vertical search engines.