Google faces Tuesday deadline as clock ticks toward EU fines

Google faces a deadline today to tell the European Union how it plans to comply with an order to stop discriminating against rival shopping search services under threat of new fines. — Reuters file picGoogle faces a deadline today to tell the European Union how it plans to comply with an order to stop discriminating against rival shopping search services under threat of new fines. — Reuters file picBRUSSELS, Aug 29 — Google faces a deadline today to tell the European Union how it plans to comply with an order to stop discriminating against rival shopping search services under threat of new fines that would add to a record €2.4 billion (approx RM12.3 billion) penalty.

The EU gave the Alphabet Inc unit 60 days to propose how it would “stop its illegal content” and 90 days to make changes to how the company displays shopping search results when users start seeking a product. Those changes need to be put in place by Sept. 28 to stave off a risk that the EU could fine the company 5 per cent of daily revenue for each day it fails to comply.

“The obligation to comply is fully Google’s responsibility,” the European Commission said in an emailed statement, without elaborating on what the company must do to comply. Google declined to comment.

The onus is on Google to find a solution that satisfies regulators, who’ve learned from past battles with Microsoft Corp and Intel Corp. Microsoft’s failure to obey a 2004 antitrust order and charge reasonable fees for software licenses saw it fined €899 million four years later. Microsoft argued that its prices were fair and it shouldn’t be compelled to give away patented innovation.



‘Mystified’ lawyer

Intel’s lawyer said in 2009 that he was “mystified” as to what regulators wanted the company to do to comply with an order to halt anti-competitive rebates for chip sales to computer makers. Intel may finally receive clarity when the EU’s top court rules on its legal challenge to a €1.06 billion fine on Sept. 6.

Google has the option of challenging the fine and the antitrust order to the EU courts, which can take years to reach a final decision. Next week’s Intel ruling will come some eight years after the EU fine. Google would have to comply with the order ahead of any final decision from EU judges.

The EU now has a month to check if Google’s planned changes will fit the bill. Regulators are also expected to levy fines in separate investigations into Google’s Android mobile-phone software — possibly as soon as next month — and the AdSense advertising service. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, has also threatened further probes on travel or map services.

Regulators sought technical help in June to evaluate how Google complies with the order, setting a budget of up to €10 million to pay for experts in search engine optimisation and search engine marketing.

ICOMP, a coalition of technology and media companies, called for Google’s offer to be made public and for the EU to publish details of how the company breached antitrust law.

“These affect everyone in the online and mobile worlds so they must be made public for evaluation,” ICOMP’s Michael Weber said in a blog posting. — Bloomberg

Source: The Malay Mail Online



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