Google Offers Clearer Search Labels to EU
After an investigation by the European Commission in to whether or not Google unfairly promoted its services, the search giant has decided to make changes to how it displays its search results. EU regulators are asking for feedback and have asked that the changes be tested for a month. If the Commission agrees with Google’s amendments, they will be binding for 5 years.
Google has agreed to make some changes to its search results in the EU. The company announced that it will clearly label results from its sites including YouTube and Google Maps. In addition to this, the search company agreed to display links to competitor sites close to where it displays its own services on its results page. In this way, rival site links will be clearly visible to users. Google has agreed to make other changes to satisfy the EU Commission as well including allowing advertisers to run campaigns across rival ad platforms.
This is not the first time the search company has been looked into. An earlier US Federal Trade Commission investigation looked into how Google displayed links to its services but no competitor issues were seen and nothing was enforced onto the company. According to the BBC, the Federal Trade Commission took a different stance since Google’s competitors Bing and Yahoo also have a substantial market share in the USA. In most European countries, Google holds more than 90% market share and therefore how it shows its search results has much more of an impact for users and on the competitive process. Although binding for 5 years, these changes will only apply to Europe if passed.
Since Google has come forth with the proposed changes, the company’s rivals have indicated that they do not feel this is enough and will reject its offers to label its services in search listings. If turned down, Google may be forced to a legally binding code of conduct or face large fines. The search giant has been under investigation since 2010 following complaints from rival companies Foundem, Ciao and French search engine ejustice.fr.
Although this could be the end of the investigation for Google, it could also be the begin of harsh penalties if its proposed changes are rejected. While the company has been able to enjoy its monopoly in European countries it seems times of change are ahead. Do you think their proposal will be rejected or accepted?
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