EU challenges Google search antitrust agreement following new evidence

23 Sep 2014

European Commission headquarters image via Wikimedia Commons.

The European Union’s (EU) antitrust commission has re-opened the investigation into claims by rival companies that Google’s search results push their results down following new evidence.

The news follows last February’s settlement between Google, the EU and the challenging companies, including Microsoft, which offered to display three of its competitor’s adverts alongside Google’s own advertising built into its search engine.

Now, vice president of the European Commission (EC) responsible for Competition Policy, Joaquin Almunia, says that after ‘fresh evidence’ has been put forward by the affected companies, the previous settlement has been put into question and must make a new proposal to the affected parties.

According to the Verge, following Microsoft’s own tests of the new adverts proposal, found that the advertising was forwarding traffic through Google’s services rather than the websites advertised, seemingly breaking their agreement.

Also, their research appeared to show that with the new advertising model, Google’s adverts were expected to be clicked 99-times more often than those of Microsoft advertised along them.

In his letter discussing the EC’s annual competition report, Almunia said that this case is another reason why online competition regulation is so important, across the internet: “Regardless of the course this case will take, the European Commission – and in particular the Commissioner for Competition – must stand firm to preserve the independence, impartiality and objectivity of our procedures and decisions.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic