Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Alleged Secret Google Antitrust Proposals Leaked

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the not-so-secret-anymore dept.

Google 116

itwbennett writes "Google's latest proposals aimed at avoiding an antitrust fine from European authorities have been leaked amid growing anger over the secrecy surrounding the case. The documents, which have been verified by sources in possession of the originals, revealed the full remedies put forward by Google, the questionnaire that rivals have been asked to fill in giving their response to the remedies and a comparison document showing the changes in Google's remedies since the last proposals. Unlike the first round of so-called 'market testing,' Google's revised proposals have not been made public and were only sent to 125 interested parties who were warned that they were not to be made public."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Hmmm .... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45355215)

So, how exactly is it that Google gets to dictate that these stay private?

It's Google who committed the offenses, and they're being punished by the European regulators.

Why does this seem like Google is the one dictating how this plays out? That makes no sense to me.

These back room deals don't help any but Google -- who is no doubt proposing things which don't actually limit or change how they do things, but just a few token gestures.

Re:Hmmm .... (2)

lanswitch (705539) | about a year ago | (#45355249)

The information in the documents could be considered trade secrets. Google has a right to keep them sectret.

Re:Hmmm .... (0)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45355311)

After Snowden it all just LOL.

Re:Hmmm .... (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45355359)

no, they don't, as being proposal "to interested parties" to keep the company from being fined big ass sum of money.

furthermore, they're a publicly traded company and all the investors have the right to know... in fact it would have been only just if they had given the info out as press release due to that..

and no company should ever be allowed to bri... negotiate plea deals behind closed doors. it's a fucking travesty whenever it happens.

Re:Hmmm .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355555)

What have they been convicted of?

Being Google. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355931)

You know, not letting Microsoft win. Making money with FOSS. Stuff like that.

It's just illegal!

Re:Being Google. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356127)

Or being just like Microsoft.

Re:Being Google. Duh! (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#45356173)

Google's 60% market share, and falling, is like the 95%+ market share that Microsoft has?

Re:Being Google. Duh! (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356291)

When the EU took action against Microsoft, IE had about a 60% share in Europe... and falling.

And by that you mean what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356609)

Or was that just content free?

Re:Hmmm .... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45355369)

The information in the documents could be considered trade secrets. Google has a right to keep them sectret.

Or, alternately, we conclude Google is just trying to cover their own asses and drag this on for as long as possible while still doing the exact same thing.

"It took Google almost four years to come up with an antitrust remedy proposal, which would only benefit Google," said Michael Weber from Hot Maps, one of the original complainants. "The search giant's allegation that complainants are obstructionists for rejecting this, is a vivid example of Googlespeak. Their wait-and-see attitude gave them a few more years of time to abuse their dominant position, at the cost of everyone on the Web."

Antritrust laws exist for a reason, and not for the offender to spend several years coming up with ways to make it sound like they've proposed a remedy which does nothing.

It's lawyers doing their best to get off without substantial punishment to the detriment of everyone affected.

I'm just not buying the 'trade secrets' argument, because it sounds more like a stalling tactic as they try to write their own 'punishment' -- which will end with a token fine, no admission of wrong doing, and a very limited set of changes to how they do anything.

Re:Hmmm .... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year ago | (#45355535)

Anti-trust laws exist to prevent capitalism from working as intended. Capitalism as intended is bad.

Re:Hmmm .... (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355581)

Actually the whole idea is to keep capitalism working as it is intended, as a self-organising system of commerce and employment, while buttressing against pathological states that such a system can fall into. It's a way to - in principle - get the best of both worlds.

Re:Hmmm .... (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45356037)

If that's capitalism working as it is intended, then the goal of every capitalist is to destroy capitalism.

Re:Hmmm .... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356119)

This isn't a tautology contest.

Re:Hmmm .... (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#45359197)

How are they trade secrets? That's a load of BS.

Re:Hmmm .... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355471)

They are ACCUSED of committing those offences, but I haven't seen any proof of that.

Re:Hmmm .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355473)

It's Google who committed the offenses, and they're being punished by the European regulators.

Huh? They're being investigated and have offered to make the changes to forestall any potential prosecution. There's no sentence, no decision and no punishment.

At this stage, it could just as likely be decided that Microsoft et al are "Less interested in resolving things than in entangling Google in a never-ending dispute".

Re:Hmmm .... (1)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#45355735)

Bad as the NSA are, I don't want to blame them for everything bad in this world; but Snowden-based news stories have clearly shown that they use their broad power not just to spy for the military but to maintain US economic advantage, and I would not be shocked at all if the EU was given a warm and courteous* NSL or similar nastygram to scare them into both being soft on US-based Google and giving them a de facto speedy but non-public trial.

The proposed changes to search results seem reasonable to me, but the process that may lead to them really should be open.

*lol

They built the best search engine, so punish them! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355223)

Really, is it a crime to be better than your competitors?

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about a year ago | (#45355257)

Yes, why don't the sue Bing, Yahoo, etc? Are they just determining that no one actually uses the other search engines?

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (2, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#45355351)

The whole investigation was done by a group controoled by Microsoft, so Bing is unlikely to be a target.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (4, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#45356235)

Perhaps instead of modding this as flameait, you should ue a search engine, perhaps even Bing, where you can find Reuters articles and other with information like the following:

"Lobby group FairSearch, whose members include complainants Microsoft, online travel agency Expedia and British price comparison site Foundem, expressed doubts over the effectiveness of Google's proposal.

"It seems that no genuinely significant changes have been made to the initial proposal, so it is difficult to see how the new package can hope to solve the competition concerns Mr Almunia (the EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia) has declared must be addressed," FairSearch lawyer Thomas Vinje said.

ICOMP, another lobby group that that counts Microsoft and four other complainants among its members, agreed."

I see Microsoft is putting those Android patent dollars to good use.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45357049)

Yep, this is all part of the M$-Apple conglomerate or at least temporarly alliance in their war against Google on multiple fronts, along with some friends, e.g. Oracle who show up from time-to-time... (Google ought to become better buddies with IBM, or at least good enough buddies with them to wave around their millions of patents...)

They're losing on all fronts, so they need to whine to governments, trade bodies, litigate, etc. or become as irrelevant as they area but haven't noticed yet.

I just hope that Steam Box & OS take off, esp. OS as it would mean finally that I could probably dump using Windows altogether as I primarily only use it for gaming.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45355403)

For the purposes of comparing search engines, Bing and Yahoo are the same.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about a year ago | (#45355751)

You sue companies, not technology.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45356977)

Yes, but Yahoo uses Bing under the hood, so there's no real point in suing Yahoo. It'd be like suing Dell or HP over a Windows antitrust issue. There might be some legal basis for it, but they're just reselling someone else's product.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355319)

Really, is it a crime to be better than your competitors?

The case isn't about the search engine, but using a dominant position in search to create unfair competition in other areas. Like someone with dominant position in operating systems using it to promote their own browser over rivals.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#45355507)

I'm attempting to figure out what Google has done that has functioned as an antitrust-type of scenario...

Search engines? At the time they came out there was a crowded market in Internet search. There are still competitors that come and go, and Google does not appear to be interested in buying them out.
Advertising? Last time I checked, Doubleclick was not the only ad-delivery that's blocked by my adblocker...
Mail? Gmail is certainly not the only e-mail provider, by a longshot, and most of us who've migrated to it have done so because it's proven to be long-term reliable so our e-mail addresses haven't had to change.
Calendaring, collaboration, productivity suites, file storage? No, lots of companies do those things.
Web Browsers? Given that I'm typing this using a Mozilla browser...
Operating Systems? Android has competition with iOS, and to a lesser extent with Windows Phone and Blackberry. Chrome is in its relative infancy, competing with MacOS, Windows, GNU/Linux, and even Android.
Maps? I can get maps from several providers.

I won't deny, Google does one hell of a good job integrating their various services, and they're also willing to modify their services at-will. They provide platforms for which others can develop things to either use features of Google's services or can integrate their own services, but they are willing to yank the floor out from under someone's creation with little or no notice. But, they're not usually charging the developer or user of this third-party addon either, so it's hard to claim that they're not in their rights to do this.

If the issue is the very nature of the tight integration, where a user will go from using Google's search engine to using their maps, calendar, e-mail, etc, again I point out that they've made the entire process of using these systems very smooth, and that when a Google service has proven to be clunky people don't use it. They also don't stop competitors like Microsoft or even Yahoo from developing their own integrated suites.

I'd really like to know what's considered antitrust...

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (2, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355525)

If you had to completely obliterate all competition before you could be prosecuted for anticompetitive action, it would completely defeat the purpose of the legislation.

You have to have monopoly ability first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356231)

These are web technologies so search merely requires that you point your browser to a different URL for resolving searches. So no monopoly power there.

Android: since they are not controlling the requirements of Samsung et al on how to implement their OS, they have no monopoly abuse like Microsoft did.

Mail. SMTP. No monopoly possible.

So how are Google excluding any competitor?

Re:You have to have monopoly ability first. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356269)

You have just completely not read my post, have you? I mean literally the only thing it says is that you don't have to be a monopoly to be engaged in actionable anticompetitive behaviour.

You do have to engage in anticompetitive behaviour (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356331)

You do have to engage in anticompetitive behaviour, though.

And that behaviour must be able to push people there, which is why it's under "Monopoly abuse" that this law appears.

If you decide that everyone who buys your new web browser must delete Windows off their machine, it may damage Microsoft ONLY IF people have hobson's choice in the matter.

If they don't have the ability to make it so, then all they've damaged is their own sales because people will leave.

I can preclude anyone shopping at my store I like. Including if they shop at a competitor across the street. However, this is not illegal because I am not a mandatory supplier for some good people must have. I have no monopoly on toilet rolls.

Re:You do have to engage in anticompetitive behavi (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356449)

Antitrust law disagrees.

Re:You do have to engage in anticompetitive behavi (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#45357191)

Then show what antitrust behaviour Google is involved in.

Re:You do have to engage in anticompetitive behavi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45358847)

Then show what antitrust behaviour Google is involved in.

The accusation from EU is that they are using their dominating position in search to unfairly compete in other product areas, by using this platform to promote their own products over competitors . This is exactly the same accusation EU made against Microsoft for bundling IE, and media player, with Windows.

Some might say that a search engine of course should be able to promote its own maps service without obligation to promote competitors, and an operating system should be able to use its own browser without obligation to promote competitors. But then you are just voicing a personal opinion that have nothing to do with this antitrust law.

By law the rules are different for a company that have a dominant position in one area for how they can use this to enter other areas. It doesn't matter whether their dominant position is earned by being best, or whether alternatives exists. Cross-subsidy/marketing across product lines is regulated for companies that have one product with a dominating position. This is why Yahoo search have no problem integrating the same services Google get in trouble for, and why Apple had no problems bundling a browser when Microsoft had.

The reason for having such laws is to avoid that one company leverages a dominating position in one market to wipe out competition in another market in a way competitors are not able to match.

One digression example here (not part if this case, just an example) is how Google used its search revenue to subsidize free commercial map API services, and a number of existing commercial map API services went out of business, then Google started charging for it.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#45357799)

If you had to completely obliterate all competition before you could be prosecuted for anticompetitive action, it would completely defeat the purpose of the legislation.

Possession of a monopoly position is a pre-requisite to being able to engage in anti-competitive action, as least per my non-lawyerly understanding. Up until you possess a monopoly position anything you do that isn't otherwise illegal is just competition. Antitrust legislation comes into play when a competitor that has achieved monopoly power in one market abuses that position to maintain that position or -- even worse -- leverage an advantage in other markets.

Keep in mind that it is not illegal to become a monopoly, or to stay a monopoly. Monopolies happen from time to time in competitive marketplaces, because one competitor is just that much better than the others. And as long as the monopoly position isn't abused to keep competition out, that's fine, because the monopolist holds the position through simple excellence at meeting consumer needs most effectively and efficiently (at the lowest price). When another player steps up an betters the monopolists' operations, then consumers will move, the monopoly will end, and nothing bad will have happened.

So, the GP's point that Google doesn't actually have a monopoly in anything is a really valid one, IMO. The EU regulators don't seem to care, but I think that's mostly because Google is an American company.

(Disclaimer: I'm a Google employee, but the above is purely my own understanding and opinions, and haven't changed since going to work for Google.)

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45358967)

So, the GP's point that Google doesn't actually have a monopoly in anything is a really valid one, IMO. The EU regulators don't seem to care, but I think that's mostly because Google is an American company.

They don't care because it is not relevant to the accusation. It is interesting how strong opinions people can have on interpreting a EU antitrust case they have clearly not understood at all.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#45359519)

Well, there are two forms of monopoly. One is a horizontal monopoly, where one owns all of everything across a market, so players in that market must go through that party, and then there's a vertical monopoly, where one locks the product from the very bottom to the very top, so that others cannot integrate their products in.

I think that the EU antitrust prosecutors are trying to call Google a vertical monopoly, citing how various Google services tie into other Google services tightly. Thing is, they don't make use of other companies' services break one's use of Google services.

I'd argue that ActiveX from Microsoft is massively, significantly more antitrust than anything from Google or any other web-services company, as ActiveX is designed for Microsoft browsers on Microsoft OSes to interface to Microsoft web daemons running on Microsoft servers.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45359933)

I think that the EU antitrust prosecutors are trying to call Google a vertical monopoly,

No. They are not. This is not at all what this case is about. See this comment. [slashdot.org]

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45358427)

If you had to completely obliterate all competition before you could be prosecuted for anticompetitive action, it would completely defeat the purpose of the legislation.

Microsoft kept Apple's heartbeat alive for a decade, including infusing tons of cash, so they could dodge monopoly charges by pointing to them as a competitor.

In the 1950s, Alcoa execs went to jail because they kept prices low, making it difficult for competitors to arise, not for killing them off.

It's all a stupid game for politicians to act like kings demanding kickbacks. Don't play right? Release the surface argument the hoi polloi buys, and bring them back in line.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355587)

You can also get other browsers than IE... Still EU convicted Microsoft of using their dominant OS position to unfairly promote their own browser over competitors, and ordered them to have a browser choice offering competing browsers in Windows.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#45355651)

Actually it was mainly because they tied IE directly into the OS making it a necessity. You still have a choice of search on whatever device you use, so not really the same thing.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355699)

You're thinking of the American antitrust case against Microsoft.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#45355853)

There is not much difference. In the EU case it was because they were actively blocking competition, in this cause there is no active blocking of competition.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355921)

Nope, the integration issues that prompted the US case were already dealt with: the browser ballot issue came down to MS' decision to preinstall IE.

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2010/02/microsofts-eu-browser-ballot-approved-arrives-march-1/ [arstechnica.com]

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#45355969)

So wait, now you are circling, was it about the bundling, as I originally stated, aka building it into the OS or not? In addition it was more about blocking people out of the market.. Just bundling something does not lower competition, MS still bundles plenty of other applications that they are not sued over.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Microsoft_competition_case [wikipedia.org]

The ballot was one of the ways to remedy the situation.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356113)

The American case wound up requiring that Microsoft share APIs and generally make it less of a pain in the ass to provide a competing, compatible browser in Windows, but allowed it to continue to bundle IE. The EU case dealt with the issue of whether including IE at all constituted an anticompetitive action against other browsers. My point being that the EU is stricter about what constitutes anticompetitive promotion of one's own products in the software space.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356311)

So wait, now you are circling, was it about the bundling, as I originally stated, aka building it into the OS or not? In addition it was more about blocking people out of the market.. Just bundling something does not lower competition, MS still bundles plenty of other applications that they are not sued over.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Microsoft_competition_case [wikipedia.org]

The ballot was one of the ways to remedy the situation.

Your own link gives another example where EU asked Microsoft to not bundle, for the same reason - media player. The case against IE in EU was about bundling, and there is no "blocking" in technical sense. It is in effect a market "blocking" that you control the dominant platform to promote your other products and competitors don't, and this is exactly the same for Google as well.

"and this is exactly the same for Google as well" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356835)

So what products are these?

When I go to www.microsoft.com I do not see HP RISC OS on there. Indeed the only products I see are Microsoft ones.

When I search, I see the results of the search and Google, if they offer, are amongst the list, but they are frequently not at the top spot.

Moreover, you do not have to get Google Maps to have maps. You do not have to have Android to get Chromium. The web search engine is not required for anyone to have, unlike an OS.

Microsoft are losing, however, and this must be stopped, right?

Re:"and this is exactly the same for Google as wel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45359053)

So what products are these?

When I go to www.microsoft.com I do not see HP RISC OS on there. Indeed the only products I see are Microsoft ones.

When I search, I see the results of the search and Google, if they offer, are amongst the list, but they are frequently not at the top spot.

Moreover, you do not have to get Google Maps to have maps. You do not have to have Android to get Chromium. The web search engine is not required for anyone to have, unlike an OS.

Microsoft are losing, however, and this must be stopped, right?

If your belief really is that EUs antitrust/compete laws (that you clearly are lacking an understanding of) are built to help Microsoft, then I think you should start reading up on the EU cases against Microsoft. EU have been far tougher on Microsoft than any other tech company.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355961)

There is not much difference. In the EU case it was because they were actively blocking competition, in this cause there is no active blocking of competition.

This is not correct. The EU case was about using Windows bundling of IE as unfair competition. There is no blocking of competing browsers in Windows, and this was not an argument in the EU case at all.

The "integrated into" is a myth stemming from the really old US antitrust case. In modern Windows the "integration" of Trident/IE into Windows is exactly the same as for Webkit/Safari on OS X. The HTML renderer is a system object that the OS and apps depends on being there, it can't be removed or changed without breakage, but the web browser can, completely.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356075)

Actually it was mainly because they tied IE directly into the OS making it a necessity.

No. This was never argued in the EU case. And isn't true for any modern version of Windows from long before the EU case. The EU case against IE was about Microsoft using bundling with the dominant Windows-platform as an unfair advantage to win in the browser market. Exactly similar to the case now, where EU is claiming Google is doing the same using its dominant position in search as an unfair advantage to win in other markets. The rules are different for companies that have a product with a dominant position, this actually limits what they can do in other areas compared to companies that do not have such a position to consider.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#45355809)

But, if I install Windows, I either have to use IE in order to get to another browser, downloading it and installing it, or I have to go through a bunch of other hoops to get that other browser without opening IE. Since the average user can't use a command-line FTP interface without loading the documentation on how to use it (again, going back to opening the web browser) it's not practical for a user to avoid IE, at least in the US. Admittedly I haven't used a euro-centric Windows installation.

By contrast, Yahoo, Microsoft, and even other companies like Mapquest have made no secret that they have websites that provide maps. One can visit these sites without ever visiting Google. Microsoft even makes that easy, since their default search engine is Bing, not Google, when one loads their browser. One can even type "yahoo maps" into Google's search engine and it'll give them a link to, *gasp* Yahoo Maps, and no links to Google Maps, not even a recommendation on a sidebar. Same for "bing maps" and "mapquest maps". Even simply searching for "maps" gives Google Maps first, then Yahoo Maps, then Mapquest, then Bing. And for those that plug in an address in the regular search engine, they probably want a map, and I don't really have a problem with Google fulfilling that want through their own internal APIs. If a user wanted a map from Bing or Yahoo or any other search engine they'd go to that search engine to get it.

I guess I still don't see what the problem is. I go where I find the best experience. Right now Yahoo News seems to be a better aggregator than Google News. I use Mozilla because I prefer it and it seems to have more plugins at the moment. I don't use ChromeOS on anything, at all, laptop, netbook, etc. I use either LibreOffice or Microsoft Office depending on where I'm at, and basically use Google Docs/Drive for only a few things I need for reference. Google has not locked me into anything, everything of theirs I use because of choice, and they do a good job making that choice easy by providing a very smooth experience when going from one service to another, and those services themselves work very well.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356145)

To address your first question, the European settlement with MS required that they offer a screen when the PC first boots, with a choice of browsers in random order. The user clicks on one and their browser is downloaded and installed. No hoops.

Freechoice (1)

DrYak (748999) | about a year ago | (#45356111)

And above all, in all these fields, Google doesn't restrict the free choice.
Users are freely allowed to go to google or any other provider.
Google doesn't follow any lock-in strategy.
In fact, with their "data libreration campaign" they even make their users aware that google follows open-desings making it easier to move personnal data in and out of the various google services. (GMail uses standard protocols like IMAP, SMTP, etc. GTalk is based on standard XMPP protocol, etc.)

Only for their phone is the choice of OS rather limited. But even there, the problem has less to do with active blocking by Google (the android devices they sell are unlocked, they publish spec, and enthousiasts are able to port quite a few opensource OS on it), it has more to do with absence of alternatives (Windows RT only runs on a limited set of hardware, iOS only runs on Apple hardware. On an unlocked andoird phone, you're limited to installing android or a few other opensource OSes of which most run a Linux kernel).

Re:Freechoice (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356171)

The case isn't about restricting alternatives, but about promoting oneself and one's partners. The US tends to only concern itself with the former while the EU tends to make sure that the latter isn't allowed to go too far.

Re:Freechoice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356675)

And above all, in all these fields, Google doesn't restrict the free choice. Users are freely allowed to go to google or any other provider. Google doesn't follow any lock-in strategy. In fact, with their "data libreration campaign" they even make their users aware that google follows open-desings making it easier to move personnal data in and out of the various google services. (GMail uses standard protocols like IMAP, SMTP, etc. GTalk is based on standard XMPP protocol, etc.)

Only for their phone is the choice of OS rather limited. But even there, the problem has less to do with active blocking by Google (the android devices they sell are unlocked, they publish spec, and enthousiasts are able to port quite a few opensource OS on it), it has more to do with absence of alternatives (Windows RT only runs on a limited set of hardware, iOS only runs on Apple hardware. On an unlocked andoird phone, you're limited to installing android or a few other opensource OSes of which most run a Linux kernel).

Which case are you discussing? None of this is relevant for the EU antitrust case against Google.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#45357217)

I'd really like to know what's considered antitrust...

- the same exact thing that it always was, since the very first one and every one after that: inability of some businesses to compete on quality and price ratio against a very successful company.

The reality is that what Google, Standard Oil, Alcoa Aluminium, IBM, Blockbuster, Microsoft provided customers with (or tried) was what customers really liked and so these companies became much more successful than the rest, and that's the problem: they are providing such good products at such low prices, that others have to BRIBE politicians to (re)enter the field without competition.

The reality is that anti-trust has NOTHING to do with what is best for the customer, it has to do with some business interests that cannot compete in the real world and use government as a MAFIA organisation that it is to destroy the more efficient, better companies. Of-course the companies fight back but to the politicians it doesn't matter who wins: the best in the field or the worst, either way the politicians get paid and create a public image that looks like they are on the side of the people, while the reality is the exact opposite.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45359397)

One issue is using a monopoly in one market to create a monopoly in another. A good example of this is Microsoft: they had a monopoly in desktop operating system market and used this to crush their only significant competitor in the web browser market. Note that monopoly position does not mean that there are zero competitors. The way your post reads I think you know this, but not everyone does.

Another issue is charging monopoly rents. If you don't have meaningful competition in a market then you can get away with charging more than is reasonable for the product. The issue here is that past a critical point of market dominance the profits from charging monopoly rent can be used to prevent others from competing against you and theoretically forcing reasonable pricing through competitive pressure.

So there are two anti-trust issues that have nothing to do with how many competitors you had when you started, or how many competitors you currently have in a given market.

(heh. just saw i'm not logged in and there doesn't appear to be a login button. oh well.)

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355463)

It's not about whether Google dominates search (it's literally not part of the case). It's about whether they use that position to obtain (for themselves or their paying clients) leadership in other areas in which they do not have the best product. For example, Google Shopping is no longer an organic Search function, you need to pay to be featured there. Yet Google Shopping results appear ahead of organic search results, meaning people who pay Google get a leg up.

Competition law isn't about whether you dominate the market, it's about whether you use your dominant position to materially disadvantage competitors.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#45355675)

People who pay dell get a leg up, ie MS and intel, so that their items get put on dell machines, does that mean we should sue dell for anti-competitive behavior? If this was something limited to google you may have some issue, but other search engines do it as well, meaning it is not something anti-competitive.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355717)

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#45355871)

Intel was sued, not dell.. In this case google is dell, not intel.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355939)

Dell settled for $100m for taking those kickbacks from Intel.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (2, Interesting)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#45355487)

Really, is it a crime to be better than your competitors?

In the EU, for an American company - Yes. Google. Microsoft. Amazon.

In the EU, for a European company, they actively promote that. Airbus. RBS. BP.

In the US, for an American company - Only if they reach some completely arbitrary threshold of "too big", which at least since Standard Oil has apparently applies solely to technology companies, while the banking industry can snort blow off the asses of underage Filipino prostitutes with impunity. AT&T and Microsoft, vs Goldman Sachs and Fannie.

For symmetry I would mention "In the US, for a European company", but see no point in dealing with purely hypothetical situations. ;)

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355639)

For symmetry I would mention "In the US, for a European company", but see no point in dealing with purely hypothetical situations. ;)

Nor reality based ones, clearly.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355745)

It has nothing to do with size. AT&T and Microsoft were engaged in specific, targetted actions against their competitors, while Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae were not. You should have taken the fact that you had to introduce arbitrary-looking exceptions to your hypothesis as a warning that because your hypothesis was wrong.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (3, Interesting)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#45356213)

It has nothing to do with size. AT&T and Microsoft were engaged in specific, targetted actions against their competitors, while Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae were not. You should have taken the fact that you had to introduce arbitrary-looking exceptions to your hypothesis as a warning that because your hypothesis was wrong.

You've missed a prerequisite here.

The things that AT&T and Microsoft got busted for, while specific and targeted, don't break the law when done by a "not too big" company.

If you wrote your own OS today, and bundled your own browser with it, specifically and targetedly intending to undercut Microsoft's sales - You have done absolutely nothing wrong. You could even brag about your attempts in your SEC filings, and comfortably remain on the legal side of the fence.

Microsoft's actions only crossed into antitrust territory because they exceed a magic (and completely arbitrary) threshold for size.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356249)

don't break the law when done by a "not too big" company

Yes, because effects scale with the size of the actor and correspondingly different laws apply to a five-man operation in a basement than to a multinational with 90% market share. Would you be equally surprised if I told you that I'm allowed to fry food in my kitchen with impunity, but I'd need to install specialised ventilation equipment to open a fried chicken restaurant?

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#45357101)

"It has nothing to do with size."
[...]
"because effects scale with the size of the actor"

Oh-kaaay... Should I, um, just leave you to debate yourself on this one?

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year ago | (#45356857)

In the EU, for a European company, they actively promote that. Airbus. RBS. BP.

Don't let the fact it's called British Petroleum fool you it hasn't been British for over 10 years.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about a year ago | (#45357659)

What? BP is headquartered in London. By most standards that still makes them a British company.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45356157)

Assclowns who modded him down, answer the question instead of behaving in a shameful way, trying to hide the question.

Re:They built the best search engine, so punish th (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356217)

He's begging the question so nobody is under any obligation to answer it. He might as well have said "Is it a crime for Google to save orphaned puppies?" because it would've had as much relevance to what Google is being prosecuted for.

TEH GOOGLE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355227)

They are at it again !!

What is Google alleged to have done wrong? (4, Informative)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45355445)

This information is completely missing from the summary and from the article it links to.

Re:What is Google alleged to have done wrong? (5, Informative)

Hyler (99628) | about a year ago | (#45355491)

FTA: "[...]abused its dominant market position. [...] prioritizing its services in search results, scraping content from rival websites, tying advertisers in with exclusivity clauses [...] making it difficult to move advertising campaigns away from its sites."

Re:What is Google alleged to have done wrong? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355493)

Various online services - advertisers, travel sites, online stores - object to the fact that Google prioritises itself and its partners over organic search results on the results page. They argue that it disadvantages anyone who's not paying to be one of Google's partners.

Re:What is Google alleged to have done wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356363)

Various online services - advertisers, travel sites, online stores - object to the fact that Google prioritises itself and its partners over organic search results on its own results page that Google generates at no expense to the user. They argue that it disadvantages anyone who's not paying to be one of Google's partners.

Fixed that for you. Frankly, I couldn't care less how many advertising companies whine and whither, and I can't say that I stay up at night mourning their demise.

On the other hand, the EU needs to stop treating web search like it's some sort of inalienable right of humanity. It's a service that takes money to provide but that is given to users for free, and the EU regime isn't chipping in a dime. Google has every right to do whatever they want with the results, including monkey hammer their own clients into the top ranking slots. If consumers don't like that, they can go to the Next Big Thing.

Re:What is Google alleged to have done wrong? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356691)

Well I would've thought it was patently obvious that any action to prevent antitrust (even the existence of a Competition Commission) was contrary to laissez-faire principles, but the GP did ask what the objection was.

Re:What is Google alleged to have done wrong? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356703)

Holy misnegation Batman.

Re:What is Google alleged to have done wrong? (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#45357109)

Well the EU knows how expensive it is to build a search engine. Jacques Chirac felt that french pride was offended because an American company named Google was getting lots of love from around the world and no french ones were (not joking, he was constantly making public comments disparaging US companies for somehow invading french culture as if it were a precious commodity) so he wanted to build a france centric search engine called Quaero. After spending millions of dollars on it, and eventually realizing the futility in it they switched it to being a "multimedia" search engine, and then his term eventually ended and the project was shelved.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaero#Criticism [wikipedia.org]

Re:What is Google alleged to have done wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355601)

"The main issue is the way Google, which, according to comScore, handles 86 percent of Web searches in Europe, orders its search results. Regulators have been investigating whether Google favors its own services — like travel, local business, mapping and shopping — over those of competitors. Regulators have also examined whether it disadvantaged competitors by including material from other Web sites in search results and whether its advertising business complied with European antitrust law."

In European Antitrust Fight, Google Needs to Appease Competitors [nytimes.com]

Re:What is Google alleged to have done wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355697)

And in the article linked from the summary

"The European Commission has been investigating Google for three years over allegations that it has abused its dominant market position. The company is accused of prioritizing its services in search results, scraping content from rival websites, tying advertisers in with exclusivity clauses in contracts and making it difficult to move advertising campaigns away from its sites."

Google's secret proposals leaked as dismay over EU antitrust inquiry grows [itworld.com]

Golden Goose (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year ago | (#45355509)

Look, kill it, quick! Just like they did with AT&T

Cant have those pesky companies making a profit in this socialist 'state'. I still want to know who Google pissed off to bring the wrath of the feds down on them.

Re:Golden Goose (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45355541)

You talk about fair markets and your example is AT&T, a company that had a government-enforced monopoly? You must be a real threat on the debate circuit.

Re:Golden Goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355827)

They broke the law of the land and continued to do so after being warned. If you don't like the laws in countries where you operate, fuck off elsewhere.

Re:Golden Goose (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | about a year ago | (#45356155)

And if you don't agree with every single law of the country in which you maintain citizenship? Or should we keep all the laws in our country (whichever country that happens to be) the same and if we come to disagree with one find another country to move to?

Re:Golden Goose (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45356201)

If you're a corporation, yes. Free-market globalisation implies that companies should weigh restrictive markets like they would weigh any other aspect of doing business with a nation, and conversely a nation should view the restrictiveness of its markets in line with the penalties in lost business from multinationals.

If you're not a corporation, then you have this thing called a "vote" instead.

Re:Golden Goose (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | about a year ago | (#45357435)

And the thread was started by somebody who is presumably an individual criticizing the apparent pattern of governments discouraging profitable organizations. Agree or not, I feel like it is reasonable, as individuals, to debate the merits of various laws and whether we feel they produce a desirable outcome.

It also seems perfectly reasonable to me for a corporation to criticize the laws of a particular jurisdiction and even lobby to have them changed. The challenge is obviously trying to achieve a system where the decision makers are not corrupt and corporations can't get their way by simply shoveling bucket loads of money at those responsible for deciding.

As an example, it would seem perfectly reasonable for Tesla Motors to lobby the government to setup laws in such a way as to permit their business to operate. It is the responsibility of government officials to ensure that the rules are set up fairly and to make decisions based on national interests rather than based on any self interest he might have (or a corporation might be willing to offer him).

Ultimately, the corporation has to abide by the laws set out in the country in question, or deal with the consequences if it chooses not to.

Re:Golden Goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45356407)

You Hitler sympathizer! You don't "fuck off", you go in and change the laws to make them better for the people!

The only way to keep a secret... (2)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#45355805)

Google's revised proposals have not been made public and were only sent to 125 interested parties who were warned that they were not to be made public.

Apparently they never heard the maxim that the only way to keep a secret is if just two people know and one of them is dead.

Do No Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355887)

Where is Tuppe666 to tell us how good Google is. Maybe his Chromebook broke down.

Not to be made public (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45355957)

' Google's revised proposals have not been made public and were only sent to 125 interested parties who were warned that they were not to be made public.

Now that's just asking for trouble. I was researching the development of WWII/Korea period IR camera equipment some years ago and finally found a Korean war A-26 pilot who had pictures of a machine equipped with some of the first IR cameras used by the USAF. He said that the fact that everybody was told these machines were 'Top Secret pretty much guaranteed that they extensively photographed from every angle. He was speaking tongue in cheek but there is a grain of truth in what he said, it's actually easier to find pictures of those 'Top Secret' machines than most standard specimens of the A-26.

Apple browser bundling (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year ago | (#45356711)

I'm still waiting for them to go after Apple for browser bundling. Until then their crusades will ring hollow.

Re:Apple browser bundling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45358123)

Shame on the EU for their secrecy. I am not impressed with Google either. Perhaps Apple already inked their secret deal with the EU.

FirSt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45357737)

For membership. Formed his own

Drop em (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45358309)

If a country doesn't like the services provided by google or the manner in which they are provided, Google should just drop their domains and companies from search results. I have a feeling if they implement this that they would receive a lot less frivilous court appearance requests.

For one thing (1)

Alarash (746254) | about a year ago | (#45358385)

Let me log with something else than a Google account on my Android. Why shouldn't I be able to log with a Microsoft Live, Apple iCloud, or any OpenID/OAuth provider I so choose? Thanks for the OS, but I'd like it to come with no strings attached.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?