Google sets out antitrust case concessions to European regulators

Search giant offers to promote rival services more prominently in results.

Internet search

The European Commission is seeking feedback on Google's plans to show services from rival companies more prominently and allow specialised internet search services to block the firm from using their content.

The Commission has given the firm's rivals a month to provide feedback on the changes.

"The objective of this process is to try to see if we can achieve a settled outcome in this antitrust investigation," said Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani.

The internet search giant has offered to clearly label results that link to Google services, such as restaurant finders, and add links to three other competitors nearby on the same page.

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The change follows several complaints from Google's competitors who claim the firm gave undue prominence to its own products and was abusing its dominant market position.

This led to an inquiry by European regulators in 2010.

Should the measure be deemed adequate, regulator could make them binding on Google. Otherwise, the search firm could be fined as much as 10 per cent of its global revenues.

Google settled a similar antitrust complaint on its search business with the FTC in January without making any major concessions.

FairSearch, a cluster of major companies including Microsoft and Oracle, said there had to be a level playing field in a European market that is dominated by Google.

"We have always said Google should subject its own products to the same rules it uses to rank and display other websites," FairSearch said in a statement.

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"Google has taken a year to develop the proposal released today. We think it's only fair that outside experts have more than a month to help the Commission 'market test' the long-lasting effects of Google's proposal on consumers and innovation," said Thomas Vinje, a spokesman for FairSearch Europe.

Google declined to make any further statement about the issue and only said "we continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission."

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