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Competition Commissioner says Google has questions to answer over antitrust inquiry

Joaquin Almunia has given the tech company “a matter of weeks” to propose remedies.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

THE EU COMPETITION Commissioner has said he supports the quick resolution of issues concerning Google’s market position, but that the company has questions to answer.

The Commission launched an antitrust investigation into allegations that Google had abused its dominant market position.

Briefing the press today on the ongoing inquiry, Competitions Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that the investigation had identified “four concerns where Google business practices may be considered as abuses of dominance.”

The concerns raised by the Commission include the way Google displays links to its own vertical search services on its general search page, its agreements with web partners over ads being placed alongside search results, and the portability of moving advertising campaigns from AdWords to competitors’ platforms.

Almunia also voiced concern over Google’s use of content from competing search services:

Google may be copying original material from the websites of its competitors such as user reviews and using that material on its own sites without their prior authorisation. In this way they are appropriating the benefits of the investments of competitors.

The commissioner said this “could reduce competitors’ incentives to invest in the creation of original content” for use online.

Almunia said he has written to Google’s Eric Schmidt outlining the concerns and offering the company “a matter of weeks” to come up with initial proposals to remedy the issues raised.

“If Google comes up with an outline of remedies which are capable of addressing our concerns, I will instruct my staff to initiate the discussions in order to finalise a remedies package,” he said.

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