Google Inc (GOOG) Compromises “Not Acceptable” Says EU Antitrust Chief

The compromises proposed by Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) were “not acceptable” because it  did not eliminate the concerns regarding competition, according to Joaquin Almunia, European Union Competition Commissioner during an interview with a Spanish radio station.

Little time left

Almunia added that the European Commission has not yet decided whether to impose a penalty against the search engine giant, and it has a “little time left” to settle the antitrust complaint.

According to the commissioner said, “The ball is still in Google’s court. But within a short timeframe the ball will be here [European Commission] and then it will be the moment to take decisions,” added Almunia.

Almunia explained that the latest concessions submitted by Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) did not resolve its rival’s concerns regarding its practices on vertical searches, a specialized search for a particular product or service.

Potential penalty

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) submitted additional compromises to resolve the three-year investigation of the European Commission related to complaints that it was using its dominance to block its competitors, and to prevent a potential fine of $5 billion.

The commission previously indicated that the search engine giant might have violated antitrust laws by copying reviews from the sites of its competitors without permission, pushing its own services, restricting advertisers from moving to other service providers.

Latest proposals

“We’ve made significant changes to address the European Commission’s concerns, greatly increasing the visibility of rival services and addressing other specific issues,” according to Al Verney, spokesperson for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) in Brussels.

In the latest proposal, the search engine giant will allow competitors to display their logos and making their web links more visible to users. It will also reduce the required minimum bids for advertisers who want to buy a slot on the search result pages from $0.10 to $0.03.

In addition, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) also offered to ease the requirements that prevent advertisers from transferring their marketing campaigns to rivals such as Yahoo! Inc (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). With regard to the complaint that the search engine giant copied contents or reviews for its rival’s websites, Google’s proposed that its competitors would decide which contents it could use.

‘Unwilling to change harmful practices’

Meanwhile, David Wood, legal counsel for ICOMP, the lobby group representing Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and other complainants said Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is not willing to amend its “harmful practices.

“It is now vital that the commission use this opportunity to enforce the competition rules and ensure that a level playing field is restored, not only for those companies that have been harmed but also to support consumer choice and the wider European economy,” according to Wood in a statement.

Spain privacy regulator impose penalty

In a separate report, Spain’s Data Protection Agency imposed a €900,000 penalty against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) for violating the privacy standards of the country. The agency said the search engine “collects personal information through nearly a hundred services and products offered in Spain, in many cases not providing adequate information about what data is collected, what data is used for what purposes, and without obtaining a valid consent of the data subjects.”