Google not being let off the hook so easily

Proposals by Google to change the way it displays online searches are not enough to satisfy EU demands, the bloc’s competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, said Friday.

Failure to address the European Union’s concerns could cost the US company up to 10 per cent of its annual turnover.

“The latest proposals are not acceptable, in the sense that they are not proposals that can eliminate our concerns regarding competition,” Almunia said in an interview with Spanish broadcaster Radio Nacional de Espana.

The EU’s executive, the European Commission, has been probing Google practices since November 2010, after competitors such as Microsoft complained about the company’s dominance in the internet search engine market.

The probe has focused on concerns that Google is giving its specialized services – such as Google Maps, Google Shopping and Google Places – favourable treatment in the way it displays online search results, hampering competition and user choices.

Almunia took issue in particular on Friday with the way Google still planned to treat its rivals in searches for products, restaurants and price comparisons among other things.

“There is little time left, but the ball is still in Google’s court,” Almunia said, adding, “Soon the ball will then be here, and then it will be the moment to take decisions.”

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Google not being let off the hook so easily