Europe's Google wrangle: PLEASE, DOMINANT Mr Schmidt? More?

Brussels begs Mountain View for even less evil


The European Commission apparently wants Google to make even more changes to its web search results, beyond those that Brussels has already requested.

Brussels and Google are trying to reach a settlement following claims the advertising giant unfairly dominates the search market in Europe. The US goliath's rivals allege that Google unfairly ranks its own services over competing offerings, and scrapes their sites for material to use itself.

Since the last offering of concessions in the way it ranks websites were passed on to Google's rivals to consider, it appears these competitors are still not happy with the Californian's package.

"In the replies to our letters, the complainants have submitted new arguments and data, some of which should be taken in consideration. We are now in contact with Google to see if they are ready to offer solutions," Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani said, Reuters reports.

The Commission has now been investigating Google's search business for nearly four years over claims that it illegally plays favorites with its own products. In an interview with Bloomberg over the weekend, Europe's antitrust supremo Joaquin Almunia again hinted the investigation could be enlarged to include Google Android as well.

"We continue to work with the EC to resolve the concerns they have raised," a Google spokesperson told El Reg in an emailed statement.

The prospect of yet another round of negotiation will be causing some headaches at Google, since it makes it unlikely that any settlement can be wrapped up before Almunia retires from his current position. A new commissioner would therefore have to get up to speed on the case, which probably wouldn't help matters.

Google has revised its settlement offer to the EU officials three times already and this newly intransigent stand will have dashed hopes that a deal can be struck. On Saturday Eric Schmidt took to Google's blog to protest his firm's innocence and suggest that enough is enough.

"The allegations now being made by publishers have been extensively investigated by regulators in Europe and America over more than seven years," he wrote. "To date, no regulator has objected to Google giving people direct answers to their questions for the simple reason that it is better for users." ®


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