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Google Could Face Heavy Antitrust Fines In the EU

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the we-understand-you've-got-a-lot-of-money dept.

EU 292

SquarePixel writes "Europe's competition watchdog is considering formal proceedings against Google over antitrust complaints about the way it promotes its own services in search results, potentially exposing the company to a fine of 10 percent of its global turnover. Google is accused of using its search service to direct users to its own services and to reduce the visibility of competing websites and services. If the Commission found Google guilty of breaking E.U. competition rules, it could restrict Google's business activities in Europe and fine the company up to 10 percent of its annual global revenue (US$37.9 billion last year)."

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292 comments

EU needs money to give to Greece (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430545)

... just saying.

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430577)

No, it's because Apple has so many EU politicians in it's pocket. Look at the situation in France for example.

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430785)

Please explain.

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430617)

Seriously: is there some treaty, directive or other description on what such fine money can be used for?

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (2)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about 2 years ago | (#41430751)

This money is added to the central budget of the EU.

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (0)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#41430941)

Stupid European Communists. Employing regulation. ~
Obvious disclaimer is obvious. IAAE.

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (1)

chronokitsune3233 (2170390) | about 2 years ago | (#41431107)

I'm not saying you're from the US or anything, but the US does the same thing. We just use the term "patent infringement" rather than "antitrust." (note: that's an analogy, not a pair of synonyms)

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#41431559)

Uh... I was certain "patent infringement" and "antitrust" cases promote monopolization and competition respectively. I must have been wrong and will read on that.

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (2, Interesting)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | about 2 years ago | (#41430671)

I worked out that a Europe wide 0.5% financial transaction tax would be enough to pay an unconditional base income of 400euro/month to every single person living in Europe with money to spare. ...just saying.

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (1)

ppanon (16583) | about 2 years ago | (#41431563)

Yep. And at the same time it would cut down on speculation in the financial markets and high speed trading arbitrage, which is why the investment banks and brokers in Wall Street and London are so dead set against it. It would cut into a major source of revenue for them, oh and probably help stabilize markets by reducing flash trading.

Re:EU needs money to give to Greece (0)

HanzoSpam (713251) | about 2 years ago | (#41430839)

What? There's still an EU?

Google is Evil (-1, Troll)

penguinstorm (575341) | about 2 years ago | (#41430559)

I, for one, welcome our new European overlords if they actually prove effective at punishing Google for their transgressions and regulating them into compliance.

Re:Google is Evil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430613)

Can you give an example in relation to their promoting their own services through their search engine? The first thing I tried to test it was searching for "maps" on Google search and sure enough Google Maps came up first. But then I tried searching for "maps" on Bing and it also gave me Google maps first so maybe Google maps is just a good first result for that. I'm sure there must be other search terms that demonstrate a problem though, so what might be worth trying?

Re:Google is Evil (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430635)

Google+. It mixes with your results.

Re:Google is Evil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430697)

But do they have the option of 'mixing' results from other social networks? My impression (perhaps unfounded?) was that Facebook wouldn't let them have access to the equivalent information.

Re:Google is Evil (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430855)

Exactly. Google couldn't get Facebook to play, so they took it upon themselves to provide a better user experience. In fact, facebook provided information to Microsoft which they integrated with Bing, so it was possible, but they chose not to do this for Google, so Google simply took it upon themselves to innovate. But some Europeans with a baguette in one hand and a shitty search engine/service in the other complain from their corner of the world. Oh no, their crappy subpar website is ruined by the evil Google with their superior service! Let's fine the innovators!

This is why Europe will never get a Google/Apple/Microsoft company that starts in Europe. Europe simply doesn't understand basic economics. If Google wanted to, they could make sure search results always favor them, but they don't, they go above and beyond many other companies who promote their own services.

Re:Google is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431357)

Quote
This is why Europe will never get a Google/Apple/Microsoft company that starts in Europe.

So in your opinion Google/Apple/Microsoft like companies don't start in Europe How little you know about Europe. Get your head from up your rear hole dude. Europe is all about freedom of choice. NOT being forced into being controlled by anyone.

When you've got Apple and MS suing everybody. All over the world to keep their monopolies, I notice Apple and MS don't sue Google they go after the small men who haven't the finances to fight back.

Then there is MS who is loosing millions of consumers to Free Open Source Operating Systems and Software world wide. So what have they done, They have forced systems manufactures to install Microsoft's UEFI system so only windows will run on computers,

I can't wait for the European competition watchdogs to get hold of that, for unfair competition practices, Microsoft trying to lock down every computer in the world to only run windows 8
Now they have come up with the idea of charging every consumer an annual end users license fee
of $99.00 to use office software, that's after they have bought it a $140.00. You may be a MS Zombie who likes being controlled

Re:Google is Evil (1)

The Snowman (116231) | about 2 years ago | (#41431517)

I notice Apple and MS don't sue Google they go after the small men who haven't the finances to fight back.

I guess Samsung is a small man with no finances. Assuming you don't count billions in revenue and the largest slice of the tablet market. Or how about the lawsuits between Microsoft and Motorola.

Re:Google is Evil (2)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#41431151)

you mean the thing which you can *turn off*?

Re:Google is Evil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430665)

If I use Google search to search for "search" then Google search comes up seventh (after Metasearch, Bing, Twitter seach, Dogpile and Yahoo(twice)), which sort of surprised me. But I suppose it makes sense because most people using Google to search for "search" are looking for something other than Google.

Re:Google is Evil (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41430901)

People do not look for 'search' and then find google. People google it.
People will use 'search' if they want something else then google. They are already at google, so they will not select that.

Searches are related to what people search for and to what it is linked to. So to me it is logical that googleling for 'search' won't show google.

Re:Google is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430679)

I searched for 'evil' and got google on google....

Re:Google is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430719)

Do a search for any store, landmark, or address. For example, "empire state building".

Google bundles Google Maps right into the search results in a special way that no other mapping service can compete with.

Re:Google is Evil (4, Insightful)

Z34107 (925136) | about 2 years ago | (#41430891)

And thank God. When I type <name of store>, City, State I want a map. Not a plug for MapQuest. Not a plug for Bing. And most certainly not iOS 6 telling me I'll have to charter a kayak, and, by the way, Gander Mountain has a great deal on paddles.

A related problem: My local Wal-Mart has a Subway inside the store. Why don't you go picket them? There's clearly no way other sandwich services can compete.

Re:Google is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431201)

You changed the scenario to fit your beliefs. I didn't say "type in , City, State"

For "Empire state building" Google embed their map right into the search. I wasn't looking for the address. I wasn't looking for a map. Google just shoved their map in there ... and no other service can do that. How can Maquest compete when Google is shoving their maps right into their monopoly search?

I'm sorry, but Slashdot seems overrun with Google shills.

Re:Google is Evil (2, Insightful)

Z34107 (925136) | about 2 years ago | (#41431251)

You don't have to be a "shill" to realize your scenario, as presented, is ridiculous. You don't want a map, but claim Google is unfairly depriving MapQuest their share of the "people who don't want a map" market?

Google is trying to put something useful in that spot. Search for "Keanu Reeves" and, instead of a map, you'll get a short bio. Search for "Pb" and you'll get it's periodic table entry.

Bing and Yahoo! could do something like that, but they'd rather fill that space with ads.

Re:Google is Evil (5, Insightful)

LourensV (856614) | about 2 years ago | (#41430997)

There are some interesting parallels here. Google is starting to look more and more like an operating system, with the menu bar at the top and the integration of a lot of their services into a desktop-like interface. And in a way, the "start menu" for this operating system is Google Search (it is after all the one at google.com). So the question then is, are they allowed to bundle other applications with this operating system, or should they allow others to compete with their own applications? In that sense it's similar to the whole Windows/IE bundling case. And in fact, Google could argue just like Microsoft did (although MS made some ridiculous claims about it being technically impossible to remove IE) that the embedded Maps is not a separate service at all, but that Search simply has an embedded viewer for search results that are geographical locations, which happens to be powered by the same technology as Maps.

Of course, what matters legally is the effect the thing has on the markets, not any kind of technical consideration. In that case, Google Search is a near-monopoly in the search market, and it's conceivable that its embedding of Google Maps to display results advantages Google Maps over other mapping services. I'm not sure how you would prove that (and have no idea what the standard of proof would be here), but if it turns out to be the case, then Google could remedy it by offering any other mapping services an open API that they can use to register their mapping service with Google, with Google then giving the user the option to choose a mapping service for showing embedded search results. That would be similar to the IE solution.

As for Google being evil, right now the EU is investigating if there is a crime at all. Antitrust law is a murky thing; there is no exact borderline where a market leader becomes a monopolist and where integrating services or products becomes too big a distortion of the market. So let's wait for the EU opinion first. Then, let's see how Google handles it. Will they work with the regulators to find an acceptable solution and implement it quickly, or will they try to lie, sue and lobby their way out of it like Microsoft did? I'd say that their reaction of a potential complaint constitutes a much better test of their character than just the fact that the EU has decided to investigate something.

Re:Google is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431639)

You clearly don't know what anoperating system is. Hint: not a GUI nor a desktop environment.

Re:Google is Evil (2)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 2 years ago | (#41431533)

OK, go use Bing. Or Blekko. Or Dogpile. Or Ask. Or is that too hard for you to do? You don't like the way Google works so don't keep using it.

Re:Google is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430723)

You haven't seen google homepage in non-chrome browser. Your eyes also have missed google+ links on the search page.

Re:Google is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430823)

You haven't seen google homepage in non-chrome browser. Your eyes also have missed google+ links on the search page.

The home page in Firefox shows links along th top and side to various services. I don't think that can realistically be what you're objecting to - or if it is then why?

My eyes have indeed missed the google+ links. Can you give an example of a search term that should give me some?

Re:Google is Evil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430749)

Can you give an example in relation to their promoting their own services through their search engine? The first thing I tried to test it was searching for "maps" on Google search and sure enough Google Maps came up first. But then I tried searching for "maps" on Bing and it also gave me Google maps first so maybe Google maps is just a good first result for that. I'm sure there must be other search terms that demonstrate a problem though, so what might be worth trying?

So Google's services are the most used simply because they are the best, not because Google are a bunch of anti competitive corporate weasels just like all the other big tech corporations. Well then, by the same logic Microsoft Windows must be so widely used, simply because it is the best Desktop OS ever written.

Re:Google is Evil (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#41430957)

They heavily promote Chrome with Google Earth, Youtube (especially to Windows XP users) and search, possibly Gmail and maps too.

Re:Google is Evil (2)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 2 years ago | (#41431127)

It would have been nice if they could have actually regulated them before hitting them with a $3.7 billion fine for putting an ad for their products on the side of their delivery trucks.

I.e., tell them they could be liable, and could you please stop that? Instead of the very first move being to make a massive hit on a foreign company (as also seen in the anti-Samsung verdicts in the US and Europe).

Re:Google is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431509)

Google is accused of using its search service to direct users to its own services and to reduce the visibility of competing websites and services

Accused? They likely openly admit to doing such things, they are a business after all. It's what they are SUPPOSED to do.

Google should just tell the EU to fuck off and continue running things the way they have been. What? Are the Eurotrash governments going to start censoring peoples' internet connections to exclude the biggest and best search engine in the world?

EU are on crack (2, Informative)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41430655)

Even if Google does what they suggest, Why is it illegal for a company to promote itself over others on the services it provides for free. If you don't like Google, don't use their services. It's not a requirement.

Re:EU are on crack (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430705)

Read up on rules on monopolies. If you have a dominant position in one area and use that to gain an advantage in other areas, that's when you are in trouble. If no such rules were in place, the natural evolution would be that one company crushing all the others. Be thankful that that this is happening. It's good for you in the end.

Re:EU are on crack (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#41430757)

I'm not clear as to how Google is a monopoly. It does not control the physical or electronic structure of the Internet. Web searching certainly cannot be considered a natural monopoly. It can't stop competing web services.

So how can Google maintain any kind of abusive monopoly.

Re:EU are on crack (4, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about 2 years ago | (#41430825)

They have over 80% of the global search marketshare. That's what makes them a monopoly. There's nothing illegal with being a monopoly, the question is if a company is abusing that monopoly or not.

Re:EU are on crack (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430909)

The point is that with google there can be no lock-in, so they cannot abuse their monopoly in the same way e.g microsoft can because people are free to go to a competitor search engine at the drop of a hat. The moment google does something I don't like, I simply replace my default search engine with another, and off I go.

(And in fact, google did do something I didn't like, and off I did go).

No lockin + plenty of competitors = no abuse of monopoly, because people are totally free to leave

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431247)

You apparently haven't tried to export your data from your google account.

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431307)

Which [dataliberation.org] part [google.com] ?

You should try harder, these are in top 5 links for google search for "export your data from your google account".

Re:EU are on crack (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#41431613)

Huh? Google supports POP3, IMAP and ICAL. Google Drive has clients that pretty much allow you to move Google Docs files on to your computer, not to mention exporting to several common formats.

Either you're an ignoramus or a liar.

Re:EU are on crack (2, Insightful)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | about 2 years ago | (#41431261)

The point is that with google there can be no lock-in, so they cannot abuse their monopoly in the same way e.g microsoft can because people are free to go to a competitor search engine at the drop of a hat.

That's not good enough. The point of antitrust law is to keep all markets competitive and driving innovation. For that to happen people have to be free to choose the best search engine for them and the best social network and the best maps, etc. It's not sufficient that they choose the best bundle of those together because it might mean that while we end up with real competition in one market, the other markets are abandoned by innovators because there is no realistic way a better product can win against something tied to the best search platform.

Re:EU are on crack (1)

iserlohn (49556) | about 2 years ago | (#41431513)

It is not as clear cut as that though - defining how specific a particular market is and how dominant a product is in relation to that market (and what the cross elasticity of supply and demand is) has a huge effect on whether a particular action is in violation of Article 81 or 82.

Re:EU are on crack (1)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | about 2 years ago | (#41431683)

It is not as clear cut as that though - defining how specific a particular market is and how dominant a product is in relation to that market

I do believe Google's search market share has already been legally recognized as dominant in the EU, not that there is really any doubt in anyone's mind. Nor do I think we are in gray area with regard to separation of the search and social network or mapping services markets. Sure there is plenty to argue, but I don't think either of those arguments will get Google anywhere. The real question is if they are actually favoring their own services in a meaningful way, which I have not seen anyone yet establish (with the exception of a few smaller instances over the last few years and which have been corrected).

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430871)

Exactly, anyone can write their own web server, and gain traction as we see with Bing. No one is forcing Europeans to use Google search.

But this is Europe where they punish success.

Re:EU are on crack (4, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#41430879)

You don't even have to be a monopoly to run afowl of antitrust laws; you just have to be able to exert undue influence on market forces. Since Google has a search market share of 70%-80%, promoting their products in those searches has undue influence.

Re:EU are on crack (1)

devleopard (317515) | about 2 years ago | (#41430917)

It's not maintaining. It just is.

Not to mention the contracts they have (or on what they produce) to be the search box defaults: iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Safari.

Remember, Microsoft didn't manufacture their own computers, yet had a monopoly.

Re:EU are on crack (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 2 years ago | (#41430935)

I'm not clear as to how Google is a monopoly.

Try searching with Duck Duck Go. It gets most of its results from Bing. You soon find that the most useful feature is the "!g" command you can mix with your search which redirects it to use Google results. The simple fact is that whilst there are other search engines, there is only one working search engine. Probably the majority of the 20% of search results are just people who don't know how to change their web browser settings or accidental searches by people who have been stuffed with Windows phones by their company (you can't reconfigure the search button at all!!).

So how can Google maintain any kind of abusive monopoly.

The "abusive" bit comes when they start to use the monopoly in one place to force their products in another place. As long as they do that at a level which is below the notice of most companies that's perfectly possible. Possibly you are thinking of Microsoft, though. There's a key difference between Google and Microsoft. Nobody is accusing Google of acquiring its monopoly illegally. They simply did the best job at search. Microsoft's monopoly having been illegally acquired was one of the things that the appeals judges supported Judge Jackson over in the Microsoft monopoly trial. Google should not be held to the same standard as Microsoft should be held to.

Re:EU are on crack (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#41431155)

It's what the PR companies have said from day one. It's an ignorant and biased view and implies that somehow you don't have a choice other than google - which is a requirement of a monopoly.

In other words, this article is about nothing and so is the speculation.

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431157)

Web searching is a monopoly, because without having lots of traffic (i.e. data collection) it is impossible to write a good search algorithm. And without a good search algorithm it is impossible to get lots of traffic.

So, they have a monopoly on search.

Re:EU are on crack (2)

waveclaw (43274) | about 2 years ago | (#41431255)

So how can Google maintain any kind of abusive monopoly.

Easy: by being a $3.8 billion per year target for politicians.

The only obvious crime committed here is being popular and making a lot of money.

It is sleazy for a company to favor it's own wares on what a naive customer assumes is a fair market. But that is the nature of 'free' markets and naive customers. The only reason anybody assumes the vendor they are dealing with is free of bias is lack of truth, which is just part of the limited, imperfect knowledge players in any real market can obtain. (This excepts toy markets from ECON 101 as they are by definition more imaginary than Internet Spaceships as any player of Eve Online would tell you.)

Also, Google claims their moto is 'Do no Evil.' Fiddling search results without telling people is pretty much Evil in my book. But Google still has to make money in a world where the DMCA police, the nanny states and the religious nutcases de jour all hold guns to Google's wallet. These politicians are just the last highwaymen along for the ride to get at those purse strings.

Re:EU are on crack (2, Interesting)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 2 years ago | (#41431521)

I'm not clear as to how Google is a monopoly. It does not control the physical or electronic structure of the Internet. Web searching certainly cannot be considered a natural monopoly. It can't stop competing web services.

So how can Google maintain any kind of abusive monopoly.

Google can become an abusive monopoly because of where the money comes from. If a competitor tries to enter the market (ad supported services), Google could tell its customers (companies advertising products) that if they work with the Google competitor, Google will stop doing business with them. That would prevent any competition for Google, which would result in EU citizens not having a free market of competing services.

Oh, and you start out by asking about natural monopolies and then finish with abusive monopolies. Which one are you more concerned about? Please be consistent.

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430707)

The same reason why Microsoft has to give you a choice in Windows which browser you want (instead of just installing the IE) and why regulatories check if a big company is allowed to buy another company (e.g. mobile provider A buying mobile provider B): to stop monopoly and lock in situatons.

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430741)

Oh gee... I dunno. Why not ask Slashdot why it was wrong for Microsoft to give away IE for free in Windows.

I mean, if you don't want to use IE then you are free to use another search engine.

Re:EU are on crack (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 2 years ago | (#41430755)

Even if Google does what they suggest, Why is it illegal for a company to promote itself over others on the services it provides for free. If you don't like Google, don't use their services. It's not a requirement.

Google makes money (a lot of money) from advertisement. So it's not really "free" in the sense that Google does something good for you.

It would be another story if Google wasn't the dominating search engine. It's exactly like Microsofts browser story -- leveraging costumers into associated products. Google can push G+ to its users and draw them from Facebook, just because they have the best search engine. This leveraging is what is illegal (for a monopoly). If 2-3 companies are competing, it would be fine.

Re:EU are on crack (4, Insightful)

Rob Y. (110975) | about 2 years ago | (#41430827)

Except that nobody's forcing anybody to use Google. In fact, the real monopolist still forces every computer you buy to come with Windows and default you to Bing for searching. And they make it pretty tricky to change. I know, I know. When it works, it's pretty easy to change, but I've never actually seen anybody change the default search engine - even those that still use Google by typing www.google.com into the location bar. And I've seen cases where the search engine choice website hasn't worked at all.

Re:EU are on crack (0)

devleopard (317515) | about 2 years ago | (#41431015)

Interesting point to make. Google has contracted to be the default in iOS (OSX too?), Firefox, Opera, and of course it's the default on Chrome and Android. There's conflicting reports about whether or not an Android vendor could use Bing or DuckDuckGo and still be allowed to ship with Google Play. Pointing out Microsoft's behavior as an example of abuse isn't exactly a supporting argument, as Google's behavior is very similar.

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431083)

How's that "interesting point to make"? a) Paying third parties for installing your services is different than selling them bundled with your other products and isn't anticompetetive - MS vs Google bidding war for FF default search was in news not so long ago, b) Chrome and Android's similar, and there's a first launch search select dialog in Chrome and there are Android phones without Google search, but with Google's appstore - know it for sure because AT&T's Moto Backflip used Bing and had Android Market (it also used AT&T Maps, for example).

Re:EU are on crack (1, Insightful)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | about 2 years ago | (#41431039)

Except that nobody's forcing anybody to use Google.

This is completely irrelevant. Whether you have monopoly influence because of a natural advantage (control the only source of something) or you've been granted it by a sovereign nation, or you simply outcompeted everyone else; what matters is what you do with the monopoly. With great power comes great responsibility. When you have this kind of power you can basically break capitalism, profiting from lack of innovation. This is bad for society, so we passed laws about what you can and can't do with that kind of power. If you still don't understand why, look at the history of antitrust law and the horrible abuses that gave rise to these laws.

In fact, the real monopolist still forces every computer you buy to come with Windows and default you to Bing for searching.

And the EU has taken several actions against MS for abuses of their desktop OS monopoly and hopefully will take more. How does that man they should not also take action against Google if it turns out Google is breaking those same laws?

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430793)

Seriously, I guess according to the EU you can't promote your products on your own website with promoting your competitors products equally. That being said, I am curious as to why they aren't going after other companies who are clearly breaking the rules as well, for instance Coca-Cola for not promoting Pepsi products on their website...

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about 2 years ago | (#41431221)

You seem to not understand the part where "monopoly" comes in.

Company growth has positive feedback - a big company can buy smaller ones and become an even bigger company, at some point it will buy all its competitors and become a complete monopoly (the only producer). This is obviously bad for the market and people in general, so laws have been passed to limit this kind of behavior. One of them applies to "market position abuse".

If a company has a dominant position (80% or more market share) in a market, it can use that position to influence other markets. An example would be Microsoft Windows bundling with IE. If you want a more clear example, I could give you this: Microsoft starts its own cell phone service and includes it as part of Windows - you buy windows and also get the contract for the cell service (free for a year then you can cancel it or start paying normal rates). Since people use Windows, they will get the service and most of them will later choose to stay with Microsoft (after all, the other providers are not much cheaper or better, so why the hassle), which would result in Microsoft gaining a large market share. However, it did not get that market share by being better than the competition, but by using the power that Windows being a monopoly gave it. This is what the EU does not like and neither should you.

And yes, Apple could probably do it without problems, since it does not have a monopoly. Having a monopoly gives you great power but also adds new rules to how you should behave.

Re:EU are on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431629)

You seem to not understand the part where "monopoly" comes in.

I understand. However, giving YOUR free services preferential advertising space on YOUR website should not be illegal, let alone have to cost you 10% of your global revenue ($39.7 billion dollars).

The shear size of the fine seems enormously excessive and outrageous. It would be one thing to base the fine on the revenue attributed to income from EU countries, since they hold jurisdiction over those funds--but, they overreach. If the US were to fine EU companies in the same manner, for something as ridiculous at this thing sounds, you EU folks would be bitching too...

Re:EU are on crack (2)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 2 years ago | (#41430867)

Aye, this is all a bit odd to me. It'd be like a Ford car dealership getting in trouble because it's not selling Lada's on the forecourt as well? The competition is complaining that Google isn't showing their competing products? (and which competing products DO go up against Google)? Surely any complaints against Google would apply equally to Bing/Yahoo who also offer advertising/webemail/storage? Very, very odd move, reeks of dodgy dealings behind the scenes rather than actual problems here. Analogy time; "but their cars go faster, it's not fair" "ok Ferrari, you have to slow down your cars so your competition doesn't look as bad" "this library is offering books for free! that's not fair!" "ok libraries, you have to start charging so book stores don't look as bad"

Re:EU are on crack (0)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | about 2 years ago | (#41431081)

Aye, this is all a bit odd to me. It'd be like a Ford car dealership...

Car analogies rarely make any sense in terms of antitrust law unless you preface them with, "Imagine one car company gained global dominance over the market and there was no real competition in the auto industry anymore".

The competition is complaining that Google isn't showing their competing products? (and which competing products DO go up against Google)?

The complaint isn't that Google isn't being fair to alternate search providers. The argument is that Google is using their dominance in search to undermine competition in other markets where Google also competes (such as using their search to undermine competition in the social network market by unfairly favoring Google+ over Facebook in search ratings). The point I'm trying to make is that antitrust law almost always deals with multiple markets, the one monopolized and the one being undermined. If you're trying to make sense of it and you're only considering one market, you should probably read a little further because you haven't gotten there yet.

Re:EU are on crack (3, Insightful)

devleopard (317515) | about 2 years ago | (#41430881)

Remind me again why Microsoft is required to show alternate browsers, when IE is free?

(They've actually failed and the EU is back after them, but that's besides the point)

Moreover, a majority of "search" boxes default to Google, as opposed to a customer making a choice. (iOS, Android, FF, Chrome, Safari)

Re:EU are on crack (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41431309)

Google pay Apple and Mozilla to be the search engine for iOS, FF and Safari. If Microsoft paid more, they could get Bing there instead. Android may default to Google, but carriers are free to change to their own services if they choose. Chrome is a bit of a different story though

Re:EU are on crack (0)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41431615)

free. FREE. FREE!!

somehow, I don't think you have a real handle on this concept.

(btw, we are not google's customers).

the fact that no money is charged to you is irrelevant. ...but nice try, google defender.

Ok Fuck it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430669)

Google should hire a hitman and just kill Steve Jobs. He's outta control.

What's wrong with that? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430675)

You're using Google services for the search. Maybe because you're interested in Google services. Maybe not. But expecting a company not to promote their own services is plain stupid.

This is another example of the European Over-Regulation that makes them the target of such derision around the world.

Fining Google outside of Europe? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430709)

So the EU wants to fine Google for all of these supposedly malicious activities that happened completely outside of Europe and had not effect on Europe at all? Hrm.. if only this was the U.S. under a Republican President, then we could see about 500 posts on how the Imperialistic America is forcing its laws on people all over the world. However, since it's the EU then it's "consumer protection" to go after the Big Evil American company for it nefarious activities taking place in Burkina Faso and Papua New Guinea...

Re:Fining Google outside of Europe? (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41430745)

Would make more sense to me to fine them 20% (or whatever) of all EU monies, instead.

Accepted Industry Practice (4, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41430761)

Bing does this as well, I do not think it is particularly fair to start fining people for doing something that has been going on and in the open since internet searches were first born.

Now if they wanted to created some regulations to protect internet searches to make them fair, well that would be a good start.

Re:Accepted Industry Practice (4, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#41430945)

Bing does this as well, I do not think it is particularly fair to start fining people for doing something that has been going on and in the open since internet searches were first born.

Just as bundling a browser with an OS is something that has been going on since the internet was born, yet Microsoft must provide a ballot screen in the EU and Apple does not. Microsoft promoting its products in Bing results puts them in front of at best 20% of the market. Google gets their products in front of 80% of the market. One company has more influence that the other in this case, just as Microsoft has more influence than Apple in the OS market.

Re:Accepted Industry Practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431371)

Strangely, I have purchased a few computers since this ruling and I have never seen the ballot screen. Anybody know what gives?

Re:Accepted Industry Practice (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41431507)

Yes but that ruling was unfair as well, actually far more so. Not only was it an accepted industry practise, but it was the best practice for computer users.
Bundling a single software product for all important tasks, is simply the best way to distribute a OS.

Re:Accepted Industry Practice (1, Interesting)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | about 2 years ago | (#41431091)

Bing does this as well, I do not think it is particularly fair to start fining people for doing something that has been going on and in the open since internet searches were first born.

In the early days no one had monopoly influence on the market. Antitrust laws have been on the books since the 1800's without much change. If Google doesn't have lawyers and businessmen that understand them they should dissolve the company now as their incompetence is staggering. If Google did go ahead and leverage their influence in search, they knew what they were doing and deserve to be smacked down for it because they were breaking the law and hoping to lawyer their way out of it.

Re:Accepted Industry Practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431257)

Is the web search a different product than the maps search? IMHO it's applying a different filter to the same data, and in this case displaying it on a map. I feel the same way about the shopping search.. it's the same exact service as the web search except it's filtered out for retail results and highlights specific pieces of data such as the price... but it's fundamentally the same product.

Re:Accepted Industry Practice (1)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | about 2 years ago | (#41431653)

Is the web search a different product than the maps search?

In terms of markets and thus the law, absolutely. There are companies that sell each of those services and not the other.

Re:Accepted Industry Practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431167)

Bing does this as well, I do not think it is particularly fair to start fining people for doing something that has been going on and in the open since internet searches were first born.

Bing is not a monopoly.

There are all kinds of complicated regulations that come into play when you are a monopoly. Some people feel like it should be illegal to be a monopoly at all, and if you become a monopoly then the government should forcibly shut your business down.

I'm sure Google would rather operate under strict rules/regulations than be shut down altogether or split up into many different companies.

Huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41430817)

The article links to another article with a very different tone from July:

"Google and EU poised to settle antitrust investigation "
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/072412-google-and-eu-poised-to-261131.html

Which includes the line: "Schmidt's proposals addressed all of the concerns they had raised with Google, European officials told the Financial Times."

Hands up who's complaining? (4, Insightful)

Ian.Waring (591380) | about 2 years ago | (#41430895)

In my experience, the only people who complain to the EU are competitors trying to fiddle with Googles business model. I think people who sponsor that sort of activity should attract fines of their own.

Re:Hands up who's complaining? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431619)

> the only people who complain to the EU are competitors
No shit, Sherlock. If you aren't directly affected by Google's practices, you wouldn't legally have any grounds to make a complaint.
If Google wants to (legally) compete as e.g. a mapping service, it has to do so on a level playing field, not by using its dominant position in the search market.

About time (2)

joh (27088) | about 2 years ago | (#41430927)

I doubt very much though that the EU will/can do very much here.

One part of the problem is that people are trusting Google more than almost any other company. Google often exercises restrain and good will and of course for most services doesn't charge anything (because its users are not its customers actually), so people are extremely forgiving.

I'm not sure about what will grow out of Google. I wouldn't be surprised though if Google were the first iteration of a more or less lenient super-AI of the future. If any of you have read the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks: The first Minds probably looked very similar to Google. If *this* will be the ultimate outcome, I'd say fuck the EU and hail Google.

Reality isn't a novel though...

Re:About time (0)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about 2 years ago | (#41431253)

Google is not lenient or anything. Google only wants one thing - more money. While currently the "try to do no evil" motto attracts users (which result in Google getting more money), that would change the instant Google has no competition (since doing evil results in even more money, assuming the users have nowhere else to go).

I agree to a point... (1)

Holammer (1217422) | about 2 years ago | (#41430975)

But to me, this is akin to a restaurant being threatened with fines for not directing some of the customers to its competitors.
The search engine industry should advertise like everyone else, or offer superior service.

For that level of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431125)

Google could buy a very well armed and well trained East German team to level Brussels and kill any lingering thorns.

Where is the corprat EVIL? It would make fabulous headlines.

Google's own services as Advertisements? (1)

Guppy (12314) | about 2 years ago | (#41431131)

Maybe Google should have simply posted up their own services as an Advertisement item in search. Instant First rank, no problem -- they could even have the department "pay" the rest of Google to do it (although I'm pretty sure they would have to be careful with accounting rules, taxes, and so forth).

Re:Google's own services as Advertisements? (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | about 2 years ago | (#41431327)

In that case MS should be able to buy that advertisement space. If Google doesn't let them, then again it is a breach of EU rules.

Boho said Microsoft. (1, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | about 2 years ago | (#41431183)

As this comes directly from Microsoft and a couple of paid minions of them its pretty lame. Its so obvious who is behind this. What Google should try to do is to get any remedies they have to do be written down as much of it is applicable to Microsofts own promoting of MS Office inside Windows and its Server products etc.

When you cant compete, litigate. If everybody laughs at you for the sheer audacity, get a couple of toady minions to do your dirty work.

Anti-American sentiment as usual... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431235)

It would be nice for the EU to keep their own house clean, perhaps go after some domestic corruption. However, since US bashing is so popular, going after a US company always makes them look good to the proles at home.

Bread and circuses... persecute the foreigners is always a win no matter what the country. Plus, it gives the EU a right to exist and make some money.

This isn't news (1)

ysth (1368415) | about 2 years ago | (#41431239)

This is getting old, the every couple days another story splashing the Evil Google name in the headlines with hardly any change from the previous round. There will be progress in the MS-EU-Google tussle over time but basically there's nothing to say until it's over and done with. And by then some of the wild accusations of exposure will magically have faded to something actually reasonable.

Google is more evil than Microsoft ever was (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431383)

How to prop a failed currency... (0)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41431385)

...levy fines against global corporations in a different currency, then convert to assets which belong to the Treasury.

Google: butthurt. Seriously butthurt.
Federal Reserve: butthurt. Although they'll just handicap to their masters in Zurich for a bailout. Not so butthurt.
Eurozone: laughing all the way to the... bank. Seriously, they just made nearly 400 billion US (see fractional reserve banking) and the public purse doesn't get to see penny one of it.

What a crock (0)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 2 years ago | (#41431443)

bunch of anti-capitalists in the EU. Google is under no obligation to anyone to show any search results other than the ones Google wants to show. You don't like how their search works? Go use Bing. Go use any of the many other search providers. Vote with your feet. Stop trying to be nanny to everyone and assume they aren't capable of finding what they want in more than one way.

Re:What a crock (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#41431647)

Some people haven't learned the lessons of history.

Re:What a crock (0, Flamebait)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41431671)

bunch of corporate pigs in the US.

EU has some shred of decency and the US would do well to understand its own shortcomings in the ethics dept.

hint: unrestrained captalism is RUINING us. shifting wealth to the rich and away from everyone else.

the US has blinders on, the last 10 or so years; and anything that helps fix our broken-ness is welcome! yes, even from the europeans.

our society is out of control and the "I got mine, fark you!" mentality has GOT to stop.

yes, we could learn a lot from 'old europe'. the new kid of the block is being a jackass. again.

Fuck the EU (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41431487)

The EU is a cunt. Everyone associated with the EU is a cunt. Don't be a cunt.

Microsoft shilling again (1)

TrueSpeed (576528) | about 2 years ago | (#41431547)

You can bet all of those complaints are from Microsoft's family of shill companies. They can't compete from a technology point of view so they complain to the EU about their incompetence. It's about time Google goes ballistic on Microsoft and exposes them for the dirt bag company they really are.

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