The European Union has asked Google to come up with more concessions within weeks if it is to avoid charges in an investigation into alleged anti-competitive behavior in a last minute effort to settle potential antitrust claims against the company. Joaquin Almunia, the EU Competition Commissioner said they are still waiting to receive Google’s reply to his opinion that concessions offered so far, by Google, do not go far enough to address the EU’s concerns.
“We need more and we need more not during the next year, we need more during the next weeks,” he told a news conference on Tuesday 14th of January.
There has been a very public back-and-forth between Google, the EU Commission and Google’s Rival’s for well over a year now, the latter of whom object to various proposals made by Google. The primary concern here, or ‘sticking point’ has been the analysis that Google content appears above third party organic links on their search engine; the largest search engine on the internet. To appease its competitors and the EU, Google had proposed that three “rival links” be prominently featured at the top of search results. Though, multiple studies (many of which were funded by Google’s competitors) concluded that this approach does little to promote and drive additional traffic to the competitors’ sites.
In separate news, the French privacy authority, National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties, or, ‘CNIL’, last week slapped Google with the maximum fine available for violating French privacy rules with its “unified” policy. The fine was 150,000 euros (about £125,000). Google will appeal the fine and verdict to the Conseil d’Etat – France’s highest administrative court – maintaining that it is compliant with European privacy standards and rules and has declined to make any changes in response to French demands.
Since the opening of the investigation in November 2010, it has now taken the European Union 38 months of time, with no apparent resolution in sight.