Google Agrees to Settlement Proposals Against Unfair Search Monopolisation

A settlement has finally ended the European Commission's three year antitrust probe into the Google's dominance of the search market.

In a move that will see the company avoid restrictions that would limit its activities in the EU and save them up to $5bn (£3.2bn) in fines, Google has conceded to give competitors' links the same prominence in search results as it does to its own services.

Whereas previously Google acted to bump down rival search results, their new five year pledge involves Google allowing three links to rival services that will appear next to its own specialised search results. Competitors such as Microsoft will still need to pay Google each time their results are shown in this way however, using a bidding process that will be approved by an independent monitor.

Earlier in the case, Google had proposed to display competitor results in a separate shaded box, but this was rejected by the Commission as an inadequate proposal to ensure fair practise.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said that the finalising settlement proposals will give users "real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way", and that the proposals will not need a "market test" before being rolled out and accepted.

Meanwhile, the legal consul for Icomp (a trade body representing online companies affected by Google's practices) has responded in the New York Times by saying: "We do not believe Google has any intention of holding themselves to account on these proposals."

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