Google is going to be forced to change how it provides search results in Europe. Otherwise, it will face antitrust charges for diverting web traffic to Google-owned services. This was the word this week from the EU’s chief of competition, who has laid out a very different approach from his contemporaries in the US.
In the US, the FTC has given its blessing to the search engine. However, in Europe, the antitrust enforcer in Europe, Joaquin Alumnia, has vowed that the EU will stop Google from ‘distorting’ consumer choices and taking business away from rival companies.
According to Alumnia, the EU continues to investigate but it believes that Google is guilty of diverting traffic. He says that Google is monetizing its ability to affect searches to benefit itself and its services.
These accusations are essentially an ultimatum to Google, as there are growing talks between the EU and the search giant on a pre-charge settlement. This could be the first time that Google caves in to any sort of regulatory pressure on its business.
Alumnia stated that he is concerned with how Google presents its services, and that he is not talking about the algorithm that drives the search engine.
This could mean that one part of the final solution in the case will be to provide a label for the in house Google services that are in the search results. But other changes also could occur with how the services by Google are shown in the general results.
Any limits on Google in Europe could prevent the big ambitions of the company’s chief executive, Larry Page. He wants the company to go from a mere search engine that displays links for other websites into a full knowledge engine that provides answers to questions, with information that is taken from Google services.
Google, which recently completed a new Panda update, currently handles over 90% of searches in Europe, which is even higher than in the US. Google always maintains that its services are good for both users and for competition. We will wait and see what the next move is from the EU on this contentious issue.
Meanwhile, other major changes are afoot at Google, although not as contentious as this EU story.