EU questions Google's dominance of web searches

By Divya Prakash,

European Union antitrust regulators have accused Google of diverting web traffic from its competitors.

According to Businessweek, the EU has asked that Google submit concessions to settle what it calls an ‘antitrust probe’.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia reportedly claimed that Google has used its dominance of web searching to gain even more traffic. An investigation is underway regarding the way Google presents search results.

The presentation of search results has been the only stated concern that EU competition officials have emphasized. They are not calling Google’s search algorithm into question.

Almunia told the Financial Times, “We are still investigating, but my conviction is [Google is] diverting traffic. They are monetizing this kind of business, the strong position they have in the general search market, and this is not only a dominant position, I think – I fear – there is an abuse of this dominant position.”

The talks that are underway between the EU and Google are the first example of Google being answerable to legislative regulations. In response, Google is expected to change the way results show-up on European screens. Google has been asked to label when Google-specific services like maps, airline deals, or shopping information, are posted higher than other results.

The probe comes after the US Federal Trade Commission gave the ‘all-clear’ to Google. This, Mr. Alumnia says, highlights the differing standards of ‘abuse of dominance’ that exist in America and Europe. Legal standards for abuse of dominance in the US, he says, are more lax.

There is also a separate EU investigation into Google’s Android platform for mobile phones.

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