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EU says Google not doing enough in antitrust case

Wed, 07/17/2013 - 11:32am
The Associated Press

This March 15, 2013, file photo shows Google bicycles at the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. In the era of intense government surveillance and secret court orders, a murky multimillion-dollar market has emerged. Paid for by U.S. tax dollars, but with little public scrutiny, surveillance fees charged in secret by technology and phone companies can vary wildly. While Microsoft, Yahoo and Google won’t say how much they charge, the American Civil Liberties Union found that email records can be turned over for as little as $25. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)PARIS (AP) — The European Union's competition chief says Google isn't doing enough to overcome concerns that it's stifling competition, and ordered the Internet giant to come up with new ideas.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has been investigating for three years whether Google Inc. is abusing its 90 percent market share in Internet searches in Europe to favor its own services. Google has sought to address the concerns mainly by changing how it displays search results.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Wednesday that after hearing from other companies and organizations, "I concluded that proposals that Google sent to us months ago are not enough to overcome our concerns."

He said he sent a letter to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt "asking Google to present better proposals."

In response, Google spokesman Al Verney said says its proposal "clearly addresses" the four areas of concern laid out by EU authorities. "We continue to work with the commission to settle this case," he said.

In addition to Google's dominance of Internet searches in Europe, the Commission has also expressed concern about how Google manages the ads appearing next to its search results, how Google displays content from other websites and how its actions affect advertising on rival networks.

Both sides say they are committed to reaching a settlement. Without one, the Commission could formally file a case against Google, leading to a lengthy process that could result in fines worth 10 percent of Google's annual revenue.

The European Commission has often taken a harder line with U.S. tech companies than its American counterparts, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department. Google settled a similar antitrust complaint on its search business with the FTC in January without making any major concessions on how it runs its search engine.
 

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