Google Busted: forced changes likely coming

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Google Busted: forced changes likely coming
This Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, photo shows a Google sign at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google is pledging to license hundreds of key patents to mobile computing rivals under more reasonable terms and to curb the use of snippets from other websites in Internet search results in a settlement that ends a high-profile antitrust probe. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The European Union (EU) may force Google to make changes to how search results are displayed. The competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has indicated that the popular search engine may be violating antitrust rules because it is diverting traffic. Almunia has explained that he is still examining the issue, but there is a strong chance Google may be in trouble.

Joaquin Almunia is convinced that there is clear evidence of abuse by the search engine. The European Union has previously given Google a chance to explain its search results and prove that traffic was not being diverted to make the company money. The EU has spent more than two years examining the company’s actions.

“Almunia and the EU have been careful about how they phrase their requests to Google. They are not asking for sensitive algorithm information that they know the company cannot reveal. Instead, they want proof that its rivals were not being hurt by search results deliberately. Meanwhile, Google claims that it is working with officials to reach a solution.

“Google recently breathed a sigh of relief after U.S. lawmakers decided the company did not violate any antitrust laws. However, the European Union is far from satisfied at this point. The EU may force the company to change the way it displays search results in Europe. It is not clear how this will affects users in other countries.

“The EU has previously mentioned that Google may be forced to make its own services stand out better in search results. Will this mean a new color-coded system will be introduced? Could giant labels decorate search pages in the future? Since the European Union and Google are still in the process of working together toward a solution, it is not clear how the results will change. However, analysts believe that the EU will not be easy to please like the FTC in the United States.

“Google is also facing the problem of being forced to pay a substantial fine. It could pay up to $3.79 billion and still have to make significant changes to its search results in Europe. However, the European Union is not Google’s only problem. Foundem, a small company in the United Kingdom, has decided to sue Google because of its “anticompetitive nature.” Foundem lets users search and compare prices in a shopping setting and believes that Google is violating antitrust laws. The company wants Google to pay for damages.


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