Google Addresses EU Antitrust Concerns, but Keeps Specifics Private
Google today responded to the European Commission’s antitrust investigation into favoritism of the company’s own products in its search results.
While Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s letter isn’t public (yet), the company said it addresses the Europeans’ four areas of concern. “We continue to work cooperatively with the Commission,” said a Google statement.
European competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia had given Google a chance to try to settle the investigation, rather than extend litigation and incur restrictions and potentially billions of dollars in fines.
Almunia’s four concerns are that Google:
- Gives preferential treatment to its own vertical search engines.
- Displays content such as user restaurant and travel reviews that is copied from competitors’ sites.
- Gets effective search advertisement exclusivity on partner sites.
- Disallows AdWords partners from easily transferring Google’s search ads to the systems of search advertising competitors.
Analysts such as Search Engine Land had seen this as a relatively weak set of claims compared to what the EU had considered.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has hired former Justice Department prosecutor Beth Wilkinson to lead its own antitrust litigation.