The EC’s regulatory arm yesterday (25 April) invited comments from interested parties on recent commitments offered by Google after launching a formal investigation into its dominance of the online search and advertising market.
Google’s proposed concessions included clearly distinguishing its own promotional links in its natural search results, plus offering brands the option to opt out of its full suite of services, without adversely affecting their rankings.
The European body launched the investigation over concerns on Google’s practices, including more favourably treating its own web services, its use of third party content plus contractual restrictions it places on publishers limiting their use of other search engines.
Parties interested in feeding back on Google’s proposals now have four weeks to register their concerns with the EC which will be considered in the next round of its investigation.
“The Commission will take them into account in its analysis of Google’s commitment proposals. If the Commission concludes that they address its four competition concerns, it may decide to make them legally binding on Google,” reads a document inviting the proposals.
FairSearch, a European body representing 17 companies including Microsoft and Windows Phone manufacturer Nokia, immediately issued a response to the call for feedback labelling Google’s proposals as inadequate.
Thomas Vinje, counsel and spokesman for FairSearch Europe, says: “Google’s proposed commitments appear to fall short of ending the preferential treatment at the heart of the Commission’s case based on formal complaints from 17 companies.”
Google’s proposals would mean it would continue to favour its own search results unfairly and harm competition in the sector, according to Vinje.
“We will study the proposal in detail and offer an empirical analysis based on actual tests,” he adds.