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BUSINESS > Google makes plan to ease EU worries

BRUSSELS - Reuters

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Several companies say Google uses its market power to block competition.

Several companies say Google uses its market power to block competition.

Google has presented detailed proposals to allay anti-competitive concerns about its business practices, the EU antitrust regulator said on Feb. 1, in a move that brings the company a step closer to resolving a two-year investigation.

The European Commission has been investigating the world’s most popular search engine following complaints from more than a dozen companies, including Microsoft, that Google has used its market power to block rivals.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia admitted that he had received Google’s proposal to resolve the matter. But, he declined to provide details on the proposal that they were still analyzing.

The Commission, which acts as competition regulator in the 27-member European Union, is now expected to seek feedback from Google rivals and other interested parties.

Almunia told Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in December his company had until this month to present a comprehensive offer to allay regulatory concerns and stave off a possible fine.

Such a penalty could be as much as 10 percent of global turnover if a company is found to be in breach of EU rules. That could mean $4 billion if there is no satisfactory resolution in Google’s case. 

The Commission has said Google may have favored its own search services over those of rivals, and copied travel and restaurant reviews from competing sites without permission.

The EU executive is also concerned the company may have put restrictions on advertisers and advertising to prevent them from moving their online campaigns to competing search engines.

February/02/2013

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