EC seeks approval for Google search proposals

Google lays out proposals to the European Commission in an attempt to quell fears it is being anti-competitive when it comes to online search

The European Commission (EC) has opened a consultation into proposals put forward by Google regarding its online search tools and capabilities.

A battle has been raging between the Competition Commission within the EC and Google for three years over the dominance the Silicon Valley giant has in the search market, with rivals accusing the company of anti-competitive practices.

Although it has denied the accusations, earlier this month Google submitted new proposals to the EC to address the concerns it had, as well as avoid any legal action being taken against it.

The measures included labelling results to ensure users knew when Google’s own services were showing up in search, as well as displaying three of its rival search firms' results close to its own.

The EC is now giving interested parties one month to respond to the proposals, after which it will consider whether they address the concerns it has and if, in turn, the measures should be made into law.

“If, following the market test, the commitments proposed by Google provide a satisfactory solution to the Commission's competition concerns, the Commission may adopt a decision to make them legally binding on Google (under Article 9 of the EU's antitrust Regulation 1/2003),” read a statement from the EC.

“Such an Article 9 decision does not conclude that there is an infringement of EU antitrust rules, but legally binds Google to respect the commitments offered.”

However, it warned Google: “If a company breaks such commitments, the Commission can impose a fine of up to 10% of its annual worldwide turnover without having to find an infringement of the EU antitrust rules.”

This is not the only issue Google is facing with European regulators. Two weeks ago, lobby group FairSearch – which names Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, Expedia and Trip Advisor as members – submitted a complaint to the EC claiming Google preloaded key applications, such as Maps or YouTube, onto mobile handsets in exchange for its Android operating system code, putting rival apps at a disadvantage.

It is also being investigated by a number of European organisations for the way it handles privacy and user data.

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