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EU Antitrust Chief: Google "Diverting Traffic" & Will Be Forced To Change

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the shape-up dept.

EU 329

Dupple writes "It looks like the EU is coming close to a decision regarding its investigation of Google. While saying he's 'still investigating,' the head of the European Union's antitrust regulatory body has said that he's convinced Google is 'diverting traffic' and that it will be forced to change its results. From the article: 'Despite the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's move earlier this month to let off Google with a slap on the wrist -- albeit, a change to its business practices, a move that financially wouldn't dent Google in the short term but something any company would seek to avoid -- the European Commission is looking to take a somewhat different approach: take its time, and then hit the company hard.'"

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329 comments

frist psot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555529)

frist psot

Re:frist psot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555535)

Congrats! You did it!

No google for u! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555569)

The EU apparently don't need the internet.

Re:No google for u! (3, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#42555655)

The EU apparently don't need the internet.

Yes, because the Internet doesn't exist without Google... </sarcasm>

Re:No google for u! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555879)

Bing is useless.

Re:No google for u! (4, Funny)

Thantik (1207112) | about a year ago | (#42555917)

The internet still exists, it's just awfully hard to find.

Re:No google for u! (2, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#42556123)

The internet still exists, it's just awfully hard to find.

I know this might be hard to believe, but Google isn't the only search engine...

Re:No google for u! (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#42556163)

I've been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine for about 18 months. If it can't find what I need, I try Google. In the last year, Google has only once found something that DDG didn't find. If Google decided to pull out of the EU, I think it would hurt them a lot more than it would hurt us...

nonsensical allegations (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555575)

What the hell do they mean by "diverting traffic", and why would it not be allowed?

What, exactly, does Google have a monopoly of, and how are they abusing monopoly power in any way?

TFA suggests they have a monopoly on "search" which is nonsensical, since there are many competitors and no barrier to entry, and they give the "product" away for free, so it would hard to claim any monopoly pricing power is even being used or existing.

A more sensible allegation would be that they have some kind of monopoly on advertising or user data collection, since that at least they charge for, except, that as far as I can tell, they don't have that either.

So, all in all, it looks like either a blatant cash grab by the EU, or a bullshit legal attack funded by the likes of Microsoft.

Re:nonsensical allegations (2)

hinchles (976598) | about a year ago | (#42555583)

I believe they mean stuff like putting "favoured" search results at the top in return for cash. Either their own or partner/advertiser sites

Re:nonsensical allegations (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555605)

So exactly what every search engine has done since the dawn of time.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year ago | (#42555663)

Correct, and what makes you think the EU won't try and make a cash grab from every search engine including now defunct ones?

1. Declare normal business practices illegal.
2. ...
3. Profit!

Just like Apple v Samsung and the USA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555991)

Except the government wants to give it to a private company rather than reduce tax burdens to everyone.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555839)

So exactly what every search engine has done since the dawn of time.

Doesn't mean that it is legal.
I don't think this would have been a problem if it would have been clear to the end user that the top results is payed for rather than being "most relevant" to their search.

What if I was running a "free" advertise funded dating service and claimed that all matches was made by an algorithm that matched peoples interests. Then I would run another service where people could pay to the matched with a person of their choice in the database. Those using the first service would assume that the match is done from interests and what I would be doing would be considered fraud.

Re:nonsensical allegations (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556239)

I don't think this would have been a problem if it would have been clear to the end user that the top results is payed for rather than being "most relevant" to their search.

You mean if they'd put a different coloured background under the sponsored results and adding the text "Ads for [foo]"?

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556225)

Sponsored results are usually marked as being separate from the "real" results of the search query, at least in my experience. Google used to but changed that at some point so it's hard to tell the difference.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555669)

I want to see an explanation of how other search engines different from Google.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | about a year ago | (#42556031)

They don't have a dominating market position. Same reason Microsoft are being punished for stuff Apple does routinely.

Different (stricter) rules apply once you achieve a dominating market position.

Re:nonsensical allegations (5, Insightful)

aaron552 (1621603) | about a year ago | (#42555813)

IIRC, the problem is that Google's own services appear to be favoured in search rankings over competitors. I would think that this is primarily be because they're significantly more popular than the competitors, though, and not due to any bias on the part of Google.

A search for "email" on Google returns Hotmail as the first result and "web browser" gives an ad for IE, the wikipedia page for "web browser", Opera, and Firefox before Chrome appears. There doesn't seem to be anything particularly shady on there based on my rather unscientific test.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

aaron552 (1621603) | about a year ago | (#42555821)

If it's to do with advertising, I guess it's because they use exclusively Google-owned advertising networks for on the pages for their own services. I honestly don't see the problem with this (doesn't Microsoft do the exact same thing with Bing?)

Re:nonsensical allegations (5, Funny)

Genda (560240) | about a year ago | (#42555907)

I just did a search on just "Beer" and the first thing to show up was "Sam Adams", I'm guessing that right there would be enough to start a war with the German's and we all know as goes Germany so goes the EU...

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556185)

Google is location-based. For me, the top two results were the wiki page for Beer (the drink) and Beer (English village). And no, I am not using the UK version of Google either.

Re:nonsensical allegations (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555915)

Welcome to the filter bubble anyway. It shows Hotmail first for YOU. It actually shows Gmail first for me.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556035)

Do you use gmail, if so that may be why.

I never log into Google on my computer, with my gmail account being purely for my android devices, and I block google's tracking as far as I can without using a VPN, my results in this order are Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and a Wikipedia article. If it is at all relevant (probably not because I don't let Google track me), I use Yahoo and my ISP for email and not Hotmail, so I don't think my results are biased by a filter bubble effect, but they could be biased by location, I'm in the UK.

So, that's two results with Hotmail first, and one with Gmail.

Keep on dreaming (3, Interesting)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#42556359)

Google has a profile on you and they have your android device(s) and your home ISP perfectly matched up to that. Even if you don't own android and don't have a google account, they have a "virtual profile" on you. Not only that, but even if you never use google services even as an anonymous user, they probably have your home address and telephone number in their database, including an IP address for your home computer. Yes, thank the people you gave that information to that put it in their android device, which get synced, how conveniently, to Google's cloud.

Google may not be actively telling that they have this information nicely catalogued available to themselves. They may not even have all their internal applications linked exactly this way, but we all know it would be trivial for them to come up with the queries to produce the information I just described. Once there's profit in doing so, they most certainly will do it in a heartbeat. Since several large companies (the "Target knows you're pregnant" article comes to mind) have already admitted they profile their customers/users this way, it'd be very unrealistic for Google not to do this. If even a grocery store can make money on this, a company that makes their money on selling user demographics would most certainly profit from virtual profiles and linking based on probability.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556175)

yahoo is first for me (hotmail is 4th, behind gmail and wiki)

which is pretty scary. how the bloody hell does google know the only mail i've logged into on this pc (or from this ip for that matter) over the last month IS yahoo mail....

(and that's with adblock, noscript, refcontrol, etc.. cookies deleted on browser close.. not logging into anything google in months.......)

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

Blackajack (1856892) | about a year ago | (#42556263)

I get yahoo as a first result also. The weird thing is that I don't think I've actually accessed any yahoo content from this device(maybe I've clicked on a link to a news story once or twice.. And I haven't used any of their services since whenever(several years). The location does not explain(Finland, yahoo's not a very big thing here..) Curious.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

iserlohn (49556) | about a year ago | (#42556179)

I'm logged into Gmail and the search still shows Hotmail as the first result.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#42556393)

The track you by timestamp and IP and OS, etc. Even if (especially if) you're not logged in, so of course it doesn't matter if you're signed in or not, the profile they have on you is the same.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#42555937)

So? Even if they were, why is that a problem? A search engine exists for end users to find what they're looking for, not to give commercial entities some sort of equal platform for advertising. I ask a question, Google tells me what it thinks the best answer is. What does the EU want? The ability to vet Googles' search algorithms?

Re:nonsensical allegations (3, Interesting)

theVarangian (1948970) | about a year ago | (#42556107)

So? Even if they were, why is that a problem? A search engine exists for end users to find what they're looking for, not to give commercial entities some sort of equal platform for advertising. I ask a question, Google tells me what it thinks the best answer is. What does the EU want? The ability to vet Googles' search algorithms?

What does the EU want? It wants Google, a company that has a monopoly on the search engine market, to stop abusing it's dominant positon which it is allegedly now using to try and kill off competitors by wilfully burying results that link to their (competing) services. I don't think the EU gives a rat's ass about what is in Google's blackbox as long as you can put in your search term and get output int the form of fair and balanced search results. I watched a documentary yesterday where an industry observer described Google as an 'adolescent' and postulated that we have not yet seen the real giant that Google will become. Now if somebody had taught Microsoft some manners back when it was still a teenager perhaps we would have been spared a whole lot of pain over the years. Microsoft was only taught a modicum of manners (by the EU) when it was far too late but perhaps we can avoid the mistakes we made with MS by teaching Google to behave before it is once again too late and the damage is done.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#42556159)

I don't think the EU gives a rat's ass about what is in Google's blackbox as long as you can put in your search term and get output int the form of fair and balanced search results.

What's a "fair and balanced" result? Wouldn't a search engine returning what it thinks is the best results be "fair and balanced"? Is there any evidence that any of these services being returned aren't what consumers are looking for? Is Google supposed to artificially promote a bunch of crappy map services so it can be seen not to favour its own? Wouldn't that just piss off consumers who are trying to find a good service?

It's bollox. Search stands or falls by it's results. If Google starts doctoring results, then people are going to stop trusting it. What the EU seems to be demanding is that Google doctor its results to fit the EUs opinions on what should be returned.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

theVarangian (1948970) | about a year ago | (#42556203)

What's a "fair and balanced" result? Wouldn't a search engine returning what it thinks is the best results be "fair and balanced"? Is there any evidence that any of these services being returned aren't what consumers are looking for? Is Google supposed to artificially promote a bunch of crappy map services so it can be seen not to favour its own? Wouldn't that just piss off consumers who are trying to find a good service

An unfair and unbalanced search result is one where Google is modifying search results to assure that it's services are hight on the results list but those of competirors are buried on page 8. If Google is doing that they are engaging in anti-competitive behaviour because they are conciously trying to drive comptetitors out of business like Microsoft did with Netscape.

Re:nonsensical allegations (2)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#42556231)

An unfair and unbalanced search result is one where Google is modifying search results to assure that it's services are hight on the results list but those of competirors are buried on page 8. If Google is doing that they are engaging in anti-competitive behaviour because they are conciously trying to drive comptetitors out of business like Microsoft did with Netscape.

So what you're saying is, if Google is just using an algorithmic search method, and it happens to select their own sites because they are popular in their own right and legitimate results, they're not doing anything wrong?

Is there any evidence of this not being the case? email [google.com] , [slashdot.org] , maps [google.com] , videos [google.com] , calendar [google.com] , search [google.com] - all of these have competitors on the first page, and half of them have the non-Google service as the first result.

Re:nonsensical allegations (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556027)

IIRC, the problem is that Google's own services appear to be favoured in search rankings over competitors. I would think that this is primarily be because they're significantly more popular than the competitors, though, and not due to any bias on the part of Google. A search for "email" on Google returns Hotmail as the first result and "web browser" gives an ad for IE, the wikipedia page for "web browser", Opera, and Firefox before Chrome appears. There doesn't seem to be anything particularly shady on there based on my rather unscientific test.

Unscientific being the key word. Taking a handful of search resluts and declaring Google innocent of any favoritism based on these is almost as naive as three people who modded your post insightful.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#42556073)

In other news Microsoft Internet Explorer defaults to Bing for search, the cook book that Nestle offer is full of recipes which directly call out Nestle's chocolate bars, BP sells Castrol (part of the BP group) branded oil at their petrol station, and every other company in the world which is remotely competent at marketing will also promote their own products when offering a related service.

This is just normal business behavior. I'm surprised there's not a list of all Google services at the top of every search result, not just the related ones. I struggle to see how this can be subject to an anti-trust claim.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

edumacator (910819) | about a year ago | (#42556075)

I think it has more to do with Google's Map showing up in the sidebar when searching for a location or restaurant.

I just did a search for "breakfast" and Google Maps shows up beside the search results.

I still don't see that as favoring search results, but maybe I'm missing something.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556109)

This is ridiculous. You don't need to search Google to find their services: they are all listed at the top of the page. Perhaps, that European drone should indicate it more clearly that he uses his own head.

I did test your keywords and they give google 1st (2)

aepervius (535155) | about a year ago | (#42556303)

email in google :

https://www.google.de/search?q=email&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a [google.de]

first result :
Gmail: Email from Google
mail.google.com/ - Cached
10+ GB of storage, less spam, and mobile access. Gmail is email that's intuitive, efficient, and useful. And maybe even fun. âZGmail - âZSign up - âZWelcome to Gmail - âZMobile
second link: Email - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

definitively an ads for google email

web browser give me wiki first , opera second chrome 3rd. then a shitload of web laden site like cnet, then at the second page firefox. How comes the popular browser is so far behind ?

maps google maps appear first twice wiki third only :
Google Maps maps.google.de/ - Cached - Similar Karten anzeigen und lokale Firmen im Internet suchen. Google Maps maps.google.com/ - Cached - Similar Find local businesses, view maps and get driving directions in Google Maps. âZStreet View - âZMaps for mobile - âZGoogle Maps API - âZMaps Help Map - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I call that preferential treatment.

Re:nonsensical allegations (3, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#42555617)

And The EU has no authority over what google.com does, since its not based in the EU
They have some jurisdiction over the european subsidiaries like google.fr b ut don't most searches go through google.com anyway? Except for those people who want to use a foreign language, and a lot of eurpeans are fluent in english anyway.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555633)

Europeans are good Engrish speekers.

Re:nonsensical allegations (2)

sFurbo (1361249) | about a year ago | (#42555641)

They do have authority over the Google offices in Europe.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

Rix (54095) | about a year ago | (#42555685)

But if they push too far, Google has the option to close them and nope itself outside of their jurisdiction. They'll still be able to sell and display ads to Europeans, safely on the other side of the internets.

Re:nonsensical allegations (2)

sFurbo (1361249) | about a year ago | (#42555717)

I think the EU could make it hard for Google to accept payment from European countries for ads shown in Europe. And if they really want to push it, forcing the EU ISPs to reroute DNS for google.com and youtube.com could be possible. But that runs the risk of enraging the population, depending on how much of a smear job against Google have been done before.

Re:nonsensical allegations (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555871)

But then they have to start paying taxes.... And the tax break they get laundering their money through Ireland an the Netherlands is a lot bigger than a possible fine...

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556033)

safely on the other side of the internets.

Didn't work for Megaupload...

Re:nonsensical allegations (2)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year ago | (#42555737)

My searches go through google.co.uk. If I visit google.com, I get redirected to google.co.uk. I believe there is a way to override that, but it isn't straightforward.

Re:nonsensical allegations (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555807)

No Country Redirect: www.google.com/ncr

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555741)

I live in the UK. If I try to use google.com the url is automatically rewritten to google.co,uk

The US has been asserting legal authority over any site that uses .com tld regardless where the site is hosted. By that logic the EU has legal authority over all sites that use EU tld's.

Re:nonsensical allegations (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555819)

And The EU has no authority over what google.com does, since its not based in the EU...

- First off, google.com is NOT Google Inc.

- Second, google.com is strictly American. If you type in Google.com into your Web browser, and your IP address is based in Canada, for example, Google will redirect you to google.ca.

- That being said, having search results based on non-English Web sites (like in Europe) and non-American laws (i.e. censorship laws, etc), and non American businesses, customs, and cultures means that by necessity there has to be different people working there (i.e. which is why Google tends to have separate offices in separate countries)...

Coming back (again) to your ignorance, err, I mean analysis:

And The EU has no authority over what google.com does, since its not based in the EU...

Well the United States doesn't have any authority over what Mega Upload does since its not based in the EU, and yet they told New Zealand to raid and shut down the facilities and arrest the people... oh wait...

Maybe international law, international trade agreements, etc have more sway then YOUR arguments. Unless of course you are a lawyer that is skilled and experienced in these matters.

Somehow I DOUBT that a bunch of First World countries, some of which are notable as financial and business giants, don't seem to know what they are talking about when it comes to dealing with American businesses.

But I'm no expert, and I could be wrong. I mainly based my statements on Logic instead of prejudice or Manifest Destiny.

Re:nonsensical allegations (2)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about a year ago | (#42555903)

>And The EU has no authority over what google.com does, since its not based in the EU Alas that sort of thinking doesn't stop the US trying to do the same thing and enforce its laws all over the globe.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556177)

And The EU has no authority over what google.com does, since its not based in the EU They have some jurisdiction over the european subsidiaries like google.fr b ut don't most searches go through google.com anyway? Except for those people who want to use a foreign language, and a lot of eurpeans are fluent in english anyway.

Google has a presence in Europe, it has to do so for business resons. It also makes billons of dollars off of 550 million EU citizens. That gives the EU a whole lot of leaverage. Google can go to war with 27 nation states by telling them to go fuck them selves which would probably cost Google a whole pile of money, or Google can try to resolve the situation without it's profits taking a massive hit. Which do you think is more likely to happen?

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

cdrnet (1582149) | about a year ago | (#42556247)

Google.com has customers in the EU, so EU law applies as well. This is also true the other way around, and enforced by the US on a daily basis.

Re:nonsensical allegations (5, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#42555649)

What the hell do they mean by "diverting traffic", and why would it not be allowed?

It looks like they're talking about doing stuff like including results from Google Maps in your web search results (whilst not doing the same for results from Bing Maps, etc.).

What, exactly, does Google have a monopoly of, and how are they abusing monopoly power in any way?

They are the dominant search engine, and the EU appears to be deciding that they are using that dominance to help gain dominance in other markets (e.g. the aforementioned maps, amoungst others).

TFA suggests they have a monopoly on "search" which is nonsensical, since there are many competitors

They are the dominant search engine. I think you are misunderstanding antitrust legislation:
- Antitrust legislation doesn't care whether or not you have competitors, it only cares whether you are the *dominant* vendor. As a well known example, Microsoft was found guilty of antitrust violations in their operating system business, but there have always been other operating system vendors. The key was that they were the *dominant* vendor.
- Antitrust legislation doesn't say there's anything wrong with being the dominant vendor (or even the only vendor). All it says is that if you are dominating the market, you're nor allowed to use that dominance to help you gain dominance in other markets. So going back to the Microsoft example, they were dominant OS vendors, and by shipping certain freebies with the OS (e.g. a web browser) they were unfairly using their existing position to gain dominance in the browser market. Netscape, on the other hand, could never have hoped to do this since they weren't shipping anything which already dominated the market, with which to bundle their browser to compete. The EU is saying Google is using their dominance in the search engine market to push their other products in a way that is unfair to their competition.

and no barrier to entry

There's always a barrier to entry - setting up a search engine is going to involve R&D and then a hell of a lot of time and bandwidth to spider the web. However, that isn't what this is about - this isn't about Google doing anything to stop people competing in the search engine business, this is about using their existing search engine position to make it harder for people to compete in other sectors.

and they give the "product" away for free, so it would hard to claim any monopoly pricing power is even being used or existing.

No one said anything about pricing. It isn't relevant to this discussion.

So, all in all, it looks like either a blatant cash grab by the EU, or a bullshit legal attack funded by the likes of Microsoft.

Or the EU is trying to level the playing field for the smaller businesses. Whilst having everything run by a single megacorp is convenient, historically it has always been better for the consumer in the long run to have many smaller businesses offering services. The EU usually takes the attitude that a bit of short term pain (inconveniencing people by preventing the "convenient" integration of services from a single vendor) is better than the long term pain of having a single megacorp in control of huge markets and no chance for a smaller business to survive.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

ashkante (1714490) | about a year ago | (#42555687)

Exactly this. While I do agree that Google is perhaps not quite as bad as some others, current trends suggest they could end up there, or worse. Things like this might (at the very least) slow them down a little.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555955)

that's fukcing stupid. if they act bad, then they should be punished when they do so. Punishing someone when they haven't did anything wrong yet is a retarded way of solving problems. It's like hitting your dog because you dog MIGHT steal some food from the table later

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555721)

Dominant Market Position and Monopoly means different things. IF article use word "monopoly" then it is wrong.

Microsoft was accused from Monopoly but you need to know how.
Microsoft was newer accused from Monopoly on operating system market but from "Monopoly at intel based personal computer market" what was about PC only, not on all personal computers like macintosh and unix systems with a AMD cpu.

Microsoft was found quilty to have Monopoly on PC but not all personal computers are PCs so Microsoft couldnt show "there are others so we cant be a monopoly." because there were no others on PC market at all. Linux and others were at post install and not working on the market because every PC came with a MS Windows as PC compatibility demands it.

Re:nonsensical allegations (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555767)

That whole browser anti-trust thing was crap anyways. The same argument could have been made about solitaire programs, command line interfaces, disk defragmenters, etc etc.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555977)

What the hell do they mean by "diverting traffic", and why would it not be allowed?

It looks like they're talking about doing stuff like including results from Google Maps in your web search results (whilst not doing the same for results from Bing Maps, etc.).

This puzzles me.

So, they're saying that when I use Google to search for a place, Google isn't allowed to respond with a map showing the place because there are competitors who also offer a map application.

At what point does a relevant way of returning a meaningful result become an anti-competitive product-boost? If a company that provides online maps can say Google is violating anti-trust rules by using their own map, how's that different from a company that makes money from referral links saying "Hey, Google's search results provide hyperlinks to the sites they find! WE supply links to websites, they should have to offer the option of supplying OUR links instead of using their own!"

Not trying to pick a fight here, I genuinely don't follow the argument that Google should have to use someone else's maps in returning their own search results.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#42556113)

It looks like they're talking about doing stuff like including results from Google Maps in your web search results (whilst not doing the same for results from Bing Maps, etc.).

This is not an antitrust violation. It's normal business practice for every search engine.

I think you are misunderstanding antitrust legislation:
- Antitrust legislation doesn't care whether or not you have competitors, it only cares whether you are the *dominant* vendor. As a well known example, Microsoft was found guilty of antitrust violations in their operating system business, but there have always been other operating system vendors. The key was that they were the *dominant* vendor.

You're misusing the Microsoft example. Microsoft wasn't just the dominant vendor, they were actively engaged in anti-competitive practices. At the time they got slapped with antitrust fines you could not buy a computer without windows. It wasn't possible. Any computer you purchased from a store came with their system preinstalled. This is quite the opposite from someone firing up their computer and oh look Internet Explorer is the default browser and Bing is the default search engine and the end user is forced to make an informed choice.

The EU is actually unique in the way that its antitrust law is based on dominance. Most of the world requires actual corporate power (i.e. Monopoly, Duopoly, or Oligopoly) in a market before one can be guilty of being anti-competitive. Last I checked www.bing.com wasn't blocked from any common computer as a result of Google's doing.

Re:nonsensical allegations (3, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#42556197)

It looks like they're talking about doing stuff like including results from Google Maps in your web search results (whilst not doing the same for results from Bing Maps, etc.).

This is not an antitrust violation. It's normal business practice for every search engine.

Firstly I'm not saying it is an antitrust violation (IANAL and don't have any particularly strong opinions either way anyway), I'm just explaining what the EU appears to be saying.

However, I'm not convinced that you can say its completely innocent behaviour either. A search engine is supposed to find the most relevant results for what a user is searching for. Google is intentionally adding in results relating only to their own services, even though similar services exist from other companies. Using the maps example, if I search for a business then I'll get:
1. that business's home page on the web
2. people talking about that business on the web
3. a link to google maps showing me where the business is
In the case of (3), Google has intentionally included a link to a relevant page on a separate service that they also own. They haven't provided a similar link to other map services, such as Bing, Openstreetmap, etc. Whether this is right or wrong is debatable, but it is clear that they are using their search engine to promote their own maps service over their competitors', and this search result appears amoungst all the normal results, not as a "paid advertisement" (which is what happens to all the other artificially promoted responses).

And yes, you can say that other search engines do the same, but the point is that other search engines aren't in the same dominant position and therefore antitrust legislation doesn't apply to them. This is the same as pointing at things Microsoft isn't allowed to do and saying "well Apple/Ubuntu/Fedora does them" - dominant companies have to play by different rules to everyone else in order to keep the playing field more level.

You're misusing the Microsoft example. Microsoft wasn't just the dominant vendor, they were actively engaged in anti-competitive practices. At the time they got slapped with antitrust fines you could not buy a computer without windows. It wasn't possible. Any computer you purchased from a store came with their system preinstalled.

This is untrue. You have *always* been able to buy computers without Windows. There have been several antitrust cases against Microsoft; the one you seem to be referring to was where MS were pressuring OEMs to only supply machines preinstalled with windows by offering them substantial discounts for doing so. There were ways the vendors used to get around this, and so you could still buy machines without Windows, but it was more difficult to do so than it should have been.

More recently, there was an antitrust case against Microsoft because they shipped IE with the OS by default, in a way that prevented the OEMs from removing it and replacing it with a competing browser. The EU decided that this was unfair since MS were using their dominant position in the OS market to push their browser in detriment to other browser vendors. This is very similar to what the EU is suggesting that google is doing - using their dominance in the search engine market to bundle other products at the detriment to their competitors.

This is quite the opposite from someone firing up their computer and oh look Internet Explorer is the default browser and Bing is the default search engine and the end user is forced to make an informed choice.

In your example, someone made a choice to buy a Windows machine and found that IE and Bing were bundled by defaults. So long as they stick with Windows, they have to go out of their way to use a different vendor's browser or search engine.

Similarly, someone made a choice to use Google and found that Google Maps, etc. were bundled into the search results by default. So long as they stick with Google, they have to go out of their way to see map-related results in a different vendor's map.

The EU is actually unique in the way that its antitrust law is based on dominance.

It doesn't matter whether the EU is unique or not - if you want to do business in the EU you have to play by the EU's laws.

Most of the world requires actual corporate power (i.e. Monopoly, Duopoly, or Oligopoly) in a market before one can be guilty of being anti-competitive. Last I checked www.bing.com wasn't blocked from any common computer as a result of Google's doing.

This isn't about a corporation directly restricting the consumer's choice, this is about levelling the playing field so that a powerful corporation doesn't use their position to make it impossible for other companies to compete. Keeping the market competetive *is* good for the consumer in the long run, so preventing any company from getting into the position where can actively squash the competition is a good thing.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556139)

How do you define "market" and "product"? Consider antivirus software. Why in hell should Microsoft be obliged to leave its OS unprotected, just to allow a bunch of other companies to cash in on that problem?

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556245)

Google includes Google maps in their results to make their results as useful as possible. If the EU makes that a crime, I would hate to have to use whatever search engine that the EU thinks is ideal. Because my bet is that it wouldn't be very useful.

If Google makes their site less useful, they will lose market share fast. Perhaps that is the EU's goal? It's hard to imagine how that is good for consumers though.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556249)

It looks like they're talking about doing stuff like including results from Google Maps in your web search results (whilst not doing the same for results from Bing Maps, etc.).

Microsoft does the same thing with Bing Maps. They show a Bing Maps popup in Internet Explorer for addresses in web pages.
Microsoft is lobbying here because the clown Ballmer is so obsessed with destroying Google.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555747)

> no barrier to entry, and they give the "product" away for free,

I think that you need to think about those two statements, and how they relate to one another.

Re:nonsensical allegations (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year ago | (#42555759)

Their product is selling advertising to European businesses, and it is very difficult for anyone else to sell advertising because of Google's monopoly.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555787)

For example, there is no such thing as billboards of tv commercials in Europe, because all advertising goes through Google's advertising monopoly.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556005)

Google trades internet advertising, were it does indeed have a huge majority, especially now that it owns doubleclick. The only alternative I remember seeing recently is porject wonderful, but that's hardly comparable.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555799)

TFA suggests they have a monopoly on "search" which is nonsensical, since there are many competitors and no barrier to entry

The same was true of Microsoft in the 90's. Has that ever stopped anyone on /. believing they had and abused a monopoly? Different matter when it's the company of which you're a fanboi, is it?

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about a year ago | (#42555845)

the eu has made ruling after ruling that amount to little more than cash grabs from american companies. when it was the nonsensical browser bundling allegations against microsoft, most slashdotters "piled on" with their usual anti-MS bias even though the facts on the ground showed that the basic substance of the EU complaint was baseless - the browser landscape shifted because of market and technological pressures and the alleged "bundling" over which the EU was prepared to extract hundreds of millions in fines was a non-issue (and, because the world of law is slow and absurd, you still have lawyers collecting paychecks trying to justify that plainly nonsense old contention and to squeeze more money out of MS based on what anybody with eyes can now see were nonsense charges).

And now that google is the target? well, slashdotters are finally catching on that the EU's actions are basically dishonorable. sorry, but the EU has for whatever reason failed to produce major internet companies (sorry, but it's true) or the cmopanies that it has produced have been sold to US firms relatively early on. So, the EU adopts another tack - simply tax American companies' success with nonsense suits. As much as I like the EU as an entity in general, here they are so in the wrong.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556009)

EU competition law doesn't work in terms of monopolies like its US equivalent, but rather dominant market positions. I.e., anyone with 50% or more of any given market is subject to regulation to ensure thst position does not give them an unfair advantage over competitors. This certainly does apply to google.

Re:nonsensical allegations (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556037)

Once again I am pointing out a Troll that got moderated to +5 Insightful:

Poster said:

nonsensical allegations

Both the European Union and Google's own American Government said that they were breaking the law. I take it these super powers have lawyers, economists and stuff like that making arguments based on international law and trade agreements. NOWHERE, and I mean no where in your post do you point out what is a "nonsensical allegation". You don't cite any law, any United Nations charter, any trade agreement, you don't even cite a verse from the Bible (which I was half expecting from you).

Poster said:

What, exactly, does Google have a monopoly of, and how are they abusing monopoly power in any way?

You use the word "monopoly" throughout your post. In fact your entire post is based on YOUR claim that these unfair, greedy Europeans want to make money off of Google because it is a "monopoly". Unfortunately for people who are interested in the TRUTH, the source article by ZDnet does not mention anything about a monopoly or anti-monopoly legislation. So your whole argument is based on a lie and yet you get up-moderated to +5 (I'm hoping and expecting this will change as newer Moderators see through your Bullshit... as is often the case).

Just out of Interest the comments on ZDnet are highly biased against the EU as well. I get the feeling that most Americans feel that if some negative judgment is made against one of their Corporate status symbols, that this is somehow anti-American, and the result of people who are obviously more stupid than Americans. I will give examples:

The EC should shut up...
and follow the American leadership

and

... and Google should being immediately blocking all EU IP's from accessing their system.

and

Why is Almunia talking to the press like this ? Abuse of Power or did promises of a large amount of money loosen his lips?

and

The EU will use whatever tactics they believe will extract funds form internet companies. If they can't manage to tax them they will fine them to get the money.

  Oh yes, unfortunately I see the same type of people posting the same types of arguments on Slashdot as well. Too bad.

Unlike the parent poster (who got moderated to +5 Insightful!), I will supply you with a reference to my evidence:
http://www.zdnet.com/eu-antitrust-chief-hints-at-forced-changes-for-google-7000009665/

Re:nonsensical allegations (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#42556291)

Google's own American Government said that they were breaking the law.

Actually, I don't believe they did. The FTC were looking into whether they were or not, apparently due to heavy lobbying from Microsoft. I was under the impression that Google voluntarily changed a couple of practices and the probe was dropped.

Re:nonsensical allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556049)

Redirecting searches through Google instead of going directly to the page, appending user tracking information to the URL parameters for the redirect. Redirecting mobile phone traffic to Google formatted pages first, again instead of just going to the page.

Any questions?

Re:nonsensical allegations (2)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | about a year ago | (#42556329)

the argument is that google has a monopoly on search and they are using that to lock other people out of other online businesses. (or at least to unfairly disadvantage them)

Expedia are one of the companies that complained.

Imagine that every time you searched for a flight on google, all Expedia results were completely ignored, and Google simply showed at the top of the page in a big box, the results from their recently acquired travel company.

It's pretty clear that in this case, they'd be abusing their dominance in search to push their travel company.

The allegation is that to a lesser degree, they are doing exactly this with Maps, Shopping, Travel (possibly others). Not excluding competitor results, but giving their own results unfair prominence.

It seems like a reasonable complaint if true. The 'if' is important.

Thanks Government (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555607)

Oh hey, a big corporation. Are you giving us tons of money on a regular basis? You're not? Then you must be breaking some laws. And if not we'll invent some new ones. Now pay up, and don't forget to send over the high-priced lobbyists to take us to fancy business lunches and tropical conferences.

Re:Thanks Government (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555789)

Thanks for assuming that the whole world s as corrupt as you seem to think your government is.

Not everyone lives in a state which has the best government money can buy -- we go for cheap incompetents over here

Re:Thanks Government (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555877)

I have 8 (!) Internet access providers where I live, all of whom provide cheap uncapped bandwidth.

Not one of my friends in the US has more than 3 and none of the ones I talk to on a regular basis has access to cheap uncapped bandwidth.

I can buy any mobile handset and use with any carrier. I buy a "Samsung" or a "Nokia" not a "T-mobile" handset.

The reason we have this freedom is because we take free markets a bit more seriously than you colonials do and we actually enforce the freedom of the market, something a free market is incapable of doing itself (although it does a number of other things very well).

Free markets are not free by virtue of design. They are kept free by regulation.

Remember Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555697)

Is this going to be the same ridiculous thing as the last one with Internet Explorer?

Re:Remember Microsoft (1, Insightful)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about a year ago | (#42555849)

the only difference will be that because google is a company that slashdotters like (google) as opposed to one they don't (ms), they will argue against the EU in this case. not because of principle, mind you.

Re:Remember Microsoft (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#42556325)

Well, either that or they're wrong, or being lobbied by Google's competitors as happened in the US. Regardless, there's no problem with them looking into their behaviour, although I would suggest a few other companies that are deserving of an examination as well.

Re:Remember Microsoft (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#42556347)

People like you kinda annoy me at times.

You like to think you're above everyone else, the hive mind or whatever and are in the know and superior and etc.

Then you post this:

company that slashdotters like (google)

If you pulled your head out of your ass and actually read the comments instead of sewing in your own superiority, you would notice that there has been pleny of dislike for google on slashdot recently.

Strange thing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555719)

Look at it and let me know : Video [youtube.com]

Re:Strange thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555857)

You must not like having a non-banned Youtube account.

I'm regreting the death of other search engines (2, Informative)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year ago | (#42555729)

I'm into Heirloom fruit and vegetable seeds. After the first of the year I noticed a shocking change in search results. Most heirloom seed companies will give you a list of a list of one to four dozen results for things like bean seeds, Some sites are two to four times that. Some heirloom seed companies are over a hundred years old and most are over a decade old. These are people that grow their own seed and know the subject. Since the first of the year I find the first few pages of search results are what I call scam sites. These are businesses that buy in bulk and sell to yuppies. A year ago the first two pages were virtually all legit sources with maybe one company that bulk sells in the results. Companies that had been in business since the 1800s were showing up on page two or three of the search results. Basically the scam sites were paying a bundle to show up on the first few pages in the search results. I panicked and emailed myself my bookmarks so I could find my favorite websites no matter what happened. Heirloom seeds have become a profitable business so only the ones willing and able to pay the Google search tax even show up on the search results. You may have had a million web hits last year but this year you are five pages in because some start up paid Google to front their site. As a Google user I'm furious and considering any and all options but most of the sheep will simply use the sites willing to pay the blood money to Google. The web is rapidly becoming a place where corporate scam sites are the norm and anyone expecting more is a fool! Just sad to see search engines reduced to advertising and little more.

Occam's Razor (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555843)

Alternatively, those 'scam' sites may do what they do- a great deal of search engine optimization. It was merely a niche market that isn't re-spidered and indexed very often and it's turn came up at the first of the year, no doubt along with many other niche search terms. The index was updated and tada! now all those old, reputable, and not very SEO savvy businesses get to go for a swim in the search results while the modernized middlemen rise to the top.

Re:I'm regreting the death of other search engines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42556117)

Some companies are doing "Google optmization". It is one reason why Google do not want to give too much information on their ranking system but unfortunatly some people are smart and some technics to skew the results are pretty well know. Google is improving all the time his ranking system but the bad guy are fast to update how to cheat also. I will not put the blame on Google on this point.

Re:I'm regreting the death of other search engines (1)

MyKal_White (2813081) | about a year ago | (#42556313)

unfortunatly some people are smart and some technics

Yes, if only there were more smart and technics people around...

Re:I'm regreting the death of other search engines (1)

flabbergast (620919) | about a year ago | (#42556119)

These are businesses that buy in bulk and sell to yuppies.
Heirloom seeds have become a profitable business so only the ones willing and able to pay the Google search tax even show up on the search results.

Lets not be so hasty to jump to the conclusion that Basically the scam sites were paying a bundle to show up on the first few pages in the search results.. You stated that those businesses are selling to yuppies and heirloom seeds have become a profitable business. This would indicate to me that yuppies have jumped into your niche, which you are very knowledgeable about. But, isn't it just as reasonable to jump to the conclusion that a large number of what you call "yuppies" have decided those "scam sites" are legit and have been posting images and links to their product all over on Pinterest, Google Plus, Facebook, tumblr, etc, etc? And that's driven those up the rankings? That those you deride as "yuppies" are really driving this new interest in seeds and therefore because of their far reaching followings on Pinterest, drive the search results? In essence, all those "sheep" are actually driving the results now rather you. Google may not have sold out, rather your voice has been drowned out.

Re:I'm regreting the death of other search engines (1)

MyKal_White (2813081) | about a year ago | (#42556241)

After consideration, your hypothesis seems unlikely, although there is no way to prove or disprove it.

Re:I'm regreting the death of other search engines (1)

Guppy (12314) | about a year ago | (#42556169)

I panicked and emailed myself my bookmarks so I could find my favorite websites no matter what happened. Heirloom seeds have become a profitable business so only the ones willing and able to pay the Google search tax even show up on the search results.

Any chance you'd be willing to share those links you've got bookmarked? My father's into gardening and he might be interested. Plus maybe a few links from Slashdot might boost their rankings ever so slightly, especially if people here also bookmark and Google +1 them.

Re:I'm regreting the death of other search engines (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about a year ago | (#42556265)

Go away paid bing shill. Google does not accept cash to raise search positions

Re:I'm regreting the death of other search engines (1)

knarf (34928) | about a year ago | (#42556405)

Uh, nice try but no cigar.

A few things:

because some start up paid Google to front their site

That is not the way Google works... and you actually know it isn't so why say it in the first place?

most of the sheep will simply use the sites willing to pay the blood money to Google

You are seriously starting to show your colours here...

You know what? If all what you say is true there is an easy way out. Just search for those things on Bing. Or Yahoo. Or DuckDuckGo. Or Baidu. Or any of the other search sites - there are plenty after all.

What? You get the same scam sites listed first there? Then surely those scammers have paid off Microsoft, Yahoo/Microsoft, those idealists behind the Duck site and even the Chinese government as well. Ghee, I never knew there was so much money to be made in selling Heirloom seeds...

Of course the *real* story here is that you came to this site with a mission. That mission was to spew garbage about Google. Someone paid you to do that, yes? Might that someone be connected to, say, that other search engine I mentioned? The one with the funny 4-letter name? Run by a company well-known for the shenanigans you accuse others off?

Serious? (5, Funny)

Aeros (668253) | about a year ago | (#42555797)

These are just two guys running a simple home grown search engine in their dorm room in college. Give these poor guys a break. Freakin' EU!

EU'S MAN IN CHARGE !!: BEN DOVER !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42555827)

Looks a bit like Tex, too !!

Google should start supporting web search again (4, Interesting)

kasperd (592156) | about a year ago | (#42556007)

Web search was Google's primary business, which is why they stopped doing it. Sounds strange? Nevertheless that is roughly what happened.

Initially there was google.com, and it was a web search engine. Later Google started introducing other kinds of searches, which would be hosted on subpages/subdomains of google.com. Since web search was the primary business, it remained on the front page.

At some point Google thought it would be good for the users if they could type in their search query in one place and get merged results from all of the different kinds of search, which Google is offering. That was introduced a few years ago, and it was considered such a great idea, that it would go on the front page, displacing the web search.

All the other kinds of search still had their own URLs, on which the individual kind of search could be used. But Google websearch never had such a page in the first place, because it had been on the front page. So now Google is no longer offering websearch alone.

Google should reintroduce the websearch on a subdomain like web.google.com or similar. And it should also introduce a subdomain for the merged search like everything.google.com (or something shorter). Having those existing as separate pages allowing you to search them separately is both a service to the users, who sometimes want to search specific kind of content, and also clears up some of the confusion leading to stories like this one.

Once those two kind of searches each have their own page, the remaining question is which of them users should see when they just go to google.com. At that point authorities will sound even more stupid, once they come and say, you are not allowed to show all search results from the front page, only web search. But it would be less of a problem for Google to comply, because even if it does comply, the search page with all results, which users prefer, will still exist on a slightly longer URL.

While they are at it. I think they should also introduce ads.google.com or something like that, where you can go if you specifically want to search in ads. Payment rules should be slightly different for such a page. A larger percentage of users are likely to click on an ad on such a page, and the price per click should be adjusted down accordingly. Additionally those are users who want to see the ads, and thus should be shown any appropriate ads, even if the advertiser is out of budget.

Ordering a Big Mac at Burger King? (3, Insightful)

louic (1841824) | about a year ago | (#42556377)

If I go to Burger King, should I complain that they don't have a Big Mac on the menu? When I go to Google, I go there because I WANT a Google Maps result!
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