Earlier this month we heard that Google had handed in a formal offer of concessions to the European Union Competition Commissioner in the ongoing antirust investigation into whether some of Google’s practices with its search and ad businesses create unfair competition and abuse the company’s dominance. At the time we didn’t get to see what the settlement proposal actually included, but today the commission issued a press release asking for feedback on the proposed commitments and detailing some of the proposals Google submitted:
Google has made proposals to try to address the Commission’s four competition concerns. Interested parties can now submit their comments within one month. The Commission will take them into account in its analysis of Google’s commitment proposals. If the Commission concludes that they address its four competition concerns, it may decide to make them legally binding on Google.
Among the most interesting commitments submitted by Google: For 5 years Google has agreed to “label promoted links to its own specialised search services”, as well as allow websites the ability to opt out from having specific pieces of content indexed by Google. Google would also no longer require publishers to utilize online search advertisements through sourced only through it.
A breakdown of Google’s proposals is below and the full version of its commitments can be found on the DG Competition’s website here.
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To address these concerns, Google offers for a period of 5 years to:
(i) – label promoted links to its own specialised search services so that users can distinguish them from natural web search results,
– clearly separate these promoted links from other web search results by clear graphical features (such as a frame), and
– display links to three rival specialised search services close to its own services, in a place that is clearly visible to users,
(ii) – offer all websites the option to opt-out from the use of all their content in Google’s specialised search services, while ensuring that any opt-out does not unduly affect the ranking of those web sites in Google’s general web search results,
– offer all specialised search web sites that focus on product search or local search the option to mark certain categories of information in such a way that such information is not indexed or used by Google,
– provide newspaper publishers with a mechanism allowing them to control on a web page per web page basis the display of their content in Google News,
(iii) no longer include in its agreements with publishers any written or unwritten obligations that would require them to source online search advertisements exclusively from Google, and
(iv) no longer impose obligations that would prevent advertisers from managing search advertising campaigns across competing advertising platforms.
These commitments would cover the European Economic Area (EEA).
The proposals also foresee that an independent Monitoring Trustee will advise the Commission in overseeing the proper implementation of the commitments.