Although rumors abound that Google is currently holding discussions with The European Union to halt the antitrust investigation aimed at ascertaining if complaints of discrimination in Google’s paid and organic search results are founded, these rumors have been denied.
The rumours of a possible halt all started with a story on The Sunday Telegraph, in which the reporter alleged that Google could be having a change of mind about the algorithm methodology they use in their search in the European Union countries and what followed was a reproduction of the story on almost any known media.
Then Reuters also published a similar story concerning the same issue, in which it claimed anonymity of the source. The story had reported that there were tentative discussions … but no really concrete proposals on the table.
But the truth is that “The European Commission’s antitrust investigation into Google Inc. (GOOG) for allegedly having abused a dominant position in online search is still on-going, a spokeswoman said Tuesday, responding to press reports that the company is seeking an early settlement agreement on the probe”. The Wall Street Journal reported.
The European Commission (EC) sent out questionnaires to major European and U.S.-based companies involved in publishing, Internet searching, advertising, and telecommunications sometime in December and the questionnaires are expected back around mid-February. The answers gotten either prove Google guilty of the following charges or not:
- Giving preferential treatment to its own vertical search results at the expense of other providers — and intentionally lowering rankings of other sites.
- Lowering the quality score on sponsored links of competing vertical search services.
- Trying to shut out competing search tools by telling advertising partners that they can’t place certain types of competing ads on their websites, and
- Restricting the ability to use data on competing online advertising platforms.
The whole investigation process will take several months to reach a conclusion on the allegations, hence, the huge wave the news of an early settlement created . But the fact that there is no discussion going on can be confirmed in Amelia Torres statement on Tuesday; “There are no discussions. As is known, the commission is conducting an in-depth market investigation. The investigation is not finished”.
At present, Google is co-operating with the commission. We respect their process and will continue to work closely with the Commission to answer their questions,” Google wrote via its Public Policy Blog.
Antitrust complaints were originally filed by three companies — U.K. price comparison site Foundem (partly funded by Microsoft), French legal search engine ejustice.fr, and Microsoft’s Ciao by Bing. Do you honestly think Google is guilty of these allegations? Leave your reply in the comment section.