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EC Antitrust Police Unhappy with Google Proposal

It’s unclear where the EC thinks Google’s proposal should be tightened up or whether it wants more concessions

Google is getting pushback from the European Commission, which wants it to come up with a better set of remedies to settle its antitrust case against Google's search practices, the EC's competition chief Joaquin Almunia said Tuesday.

He also said the EC has gotten complaints about Google's Android operating system but hasn't decided yet whether to open a full-blown investigation. Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility recently got a statement of objections (SO) over its control of standard-essential mobile patents. Android has a 60% global market share.

Rivals, users and companies in the same market have been given another month past the original May 27 deadline to give the EC their feedback on Google's evidently inadequate proposed changes to its search practices.

Almunia told the European Parliament that the regulator would analyze the responses but then it's "almost 100%" certain that it will tell Google "you should improve your proposals."

It's unclear where the EC thinks Google's proposal should be tightened up or whether it wants more concessions.

A dozen rivals, including Microsoft, have accused Google - which the EC recognizes as dominant in search and search advertising in Europe - of bias in favor of its own properties in its search results. It also reportedly has deals with web sites and ISVs that stifle competition.

Google has offered to label its search results as Google-branded now and into the future and to show links "to three rival specialized search services close to its own" to end the three-year-old investigation.

Almunia prefers a legally binding gentlemen's agreement to bringing suit and fining Google.

In response to the news, Google decided to hang tough and said, "We believe our proposal to the European Commission addresses the four concerns that were raised. We continue to work with the commission to settle this case."

Almunia said, "I hope that we can succeed to find a possible solution" by the end of the year.

The United States Federal Trade Commission conducted a similar investigation and did nothing. However, the FTC has started another investigation into Google's display advertising and possible anticompetitive practices.

ICOMP's lawyer David Wood told Reuters that "It is really unlikely if the current proposal can be improved to such a point where it can be effective."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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