Google strong-armed into EU deal

Google is quaking in its boots about the prospect of getting a huge EU fine for its anti-trust antics.

Google has indicated that it will settle antitrust charges following an ultimatum by EU regulators investigating its business practices.

The big idea is that rolling over and allowing its tummy to be rubbed should stave off the sort of epic hefty fines that Intel and Microsoft have had to pay out.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia set an early July deadline for the world’s most popular search engine to resolve the concerns of more than a dozen rivals.

One of the rivals is Microsoft.

Google spokesperson Al Verney told Reuters that the company had made a proposal to address the four areas the European Commission described as concerns.

These four areas appear to have come from the EU watchdog which barked about Google’s business practices following an 18-month long investigation.

A spokesperson for Almunia, Antoine Colombani, confirmed that the EU watchdog received a letter from Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, but did not say that it was satisfied yet.

The argument is that Google may have favoured its own search services over those of rivals and may have copied travel and restaurant reviews from competing sites without their permission.

An allegation is that Google’s advertising deals with different sites effectively stopped rivals from operating. Meanwhile, its contractual restrictions prevented advertisers from moving their online campaigns away from Google. 

FairSearch, whose members include online travel agencies and Google complainants Expedia and TripAdvisor, said it hoped Google’s proposals would address these problems.