EU Not So Easy on Google in Anti-Trust Ruling

Earlier this week, the FTC found that Google was not really in violation of any antitrust laws. Google got off with a slap on the wrist; they agreed to some minor points to curtail patent lawsuits and other issues.Ultimately, the FTC found no reason to change the way Google runs its search and displays results. Today, it’s highly likely that the EU antitrust case against Google will find the company guilty, and force changes on the search giant.

Word on the Street from the EU

News outlets all over the world have been reporting on this story since last night. More reports are coming in based on a Financial Times article. Reuters reports that the European Union’s antitrust chief “intends to prevent Google from allegedly distorting choices for consumers and taking business from rivals.”

While this hasn’t been confirmed in a ruling yet, the fact that the head honcho at the EU’s antitrust commission, Joaquin Almunia, has come out verbally expressing what he believes will occur, is a telling sign. It’s probably going to happen.

The primary problem that the EU has with Google is the fact that they believe “preferential treatment may lead to diversion of traffic,” which is ultimately anticompetitive to the EU commissioners. The FTC on the other hand decided that the intention of promoting its services first was not to harm competitors.

According to Edward Moyer at CNET, Google has a chance to avoid penalties and demands if their soon-to-be-released proposal to the European Commission addresses the issues the EU has. If they don’t, “the Commission will be “obliged” to issue formal charges against the company.” I have a feeling that Google’s proposal won’t cut it for the EU.

Edward again reminds us why Google and other tech companies have a tougher battle in the EU versus the US. The EU understands that Google has “greater dominance in Europe” and additionally, the US has “more lenient antitrust laws.”

Moving Forward

Ultimately, unless your business or agencies deals heavily in the European market, not much will change if the EU Commission is forced to bring charges against Google to change their search engine. I think the EU is right to be tougher on Google; it appears Google has even more of a monopoly there and increasing competition is always better for the consumer.

If anything, the EU’s demands on Google will make a minor impact on the way search works in Europe. It’s hard to compete against someone who has 90%+ of the market. Google’s competitors might be able to edge out a larger slice of the search pie, but one EU ruling isn’t going to change the way the internet is organized now.

They certainly do things differently across the pond. I found the arguments interesting between how the FTC saw Google’s search strategies as opposed to how the stricter and tougher EU views what Google is doing. I supposed we’ll have to wait and see how the EU rules in the coming days.

What do you think about the FTC ruling and the probable charges Google will face from the EU?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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