Google, the EU and antitrust: The third attempt at a settlement is likely to be the last

In November 2009 Foundem, a price-comparison website, first complained to the European Commission about Google. The American company, Foundem argued, was exploiting its dominance of online search to the detriment of both competitors and consumers. The commission began an investigation a year later. On February 5th Joaquín Almunia, Europe’s competition commissioner, said that he and Google, which carries out more than 90% of online searches in Europe, had reached an agreement. (Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a member of The Economist Group’s board of directors.) This is Mr Almunia’s third attempt at a settlement in just under a year. He is confident that this one will stick.The commissioner had four main worries, which he laid out in May 2012. The most important was that Google favoured its own search results (for flights, say, or to compare the prices of consumer goods) over those of specialist competitors. This has vexed him and the complainants, of which there are now 18, ever since. Microsoft, which has itself been in hot water with the commission in the past, is prominent among them. On the other three causes for concern — about Google using others’ content without permission, exclusive advertising deals and restrictions on taking data to rival advertising platforms — Mr Almunia was satisfied long ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.