Rivals Irate over Google Proposals to Change Search Result Labelling in EU

Google could face further wrangling with the European Commission regarding monopoly accusations because a coalition of competitors has thoroughly rejected its proposals regarding changing the presentation of search results to EU users.

EC authorities must now decide whether to accept Google's suggestions, seek new concessions, or go ahead with a "statement of objections" that would lead to legal enforcement. In the event of Google failing to comply, it could be subject to a fine of up to 10% of its global revenues.

During a speech in Madrid last Thursday, the EC's Antitrust Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said "there is a tougher way to handle it" if negotiations fall short, suggesting that Google will be forced to revise its current offering. If this happens, it would be the first time that Google will be forced to change its search presentation due to monopoly concerns, with the deal being binding for at least five years.

FairSearch, a group of 17 companies including Microsoft and TripAdvisor, have been scathing about Google's proposed labelling (which would distinguish its own offerings from rivals' content) since they say that this will unfairly favour the US company.

Moritz von Merveldt, Head of Antitrust Matters at German media company ProSiebenSat.1 Group, commented on the proposals: "This will be a counterproductive measure, it will institutionalise the search bias. Users often will be directed away from competitors' offers."

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