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Friday, December 20, 2013
European Regulator Asks More From Google

Europe's top regulator said Friday Google's recent concessions to resolve concerns it is abusing its dominant position in search are not enough.

Speaking on Spanish national radio, European Commission antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia said Google's latest round of proposals in October don't "eliminate our concerns regarding competition." According to Reuters, Almunia cited the way that Google treats rivals such as review service Yelp and price comparison shopping services.

Almunia said he has not yet decided on filing a charge sheet against the search giant. Asked whether he has decided to levy a fine against the company, he said: "No, no, no...At this moment there is little time left, but the ball is still in Google's court.

"But within a short timeframe the ball will be here and then it will be the moment to take decisions."

The European regulators have been investigating Google since 2010. Competitors have complained about the way Google gives preference to its own services at the top of results pages, especially when consumers are likely to be searching for something to buy.

To escape a potential fine of up to $5 billion, the company in April offered to include more labelling of links that promote its own services to indicate that they were promoted placements, but they were rejected.

Google's October concession was to offer competitors the chance to bid on second-place positioning below Google services, where they would be allowed to advertise their own services and brand.

Google spokesman Al Verney indicated Friday the company believes its current proposals have already addressed the commission's concerns, but stopped short of ruling out a further compromise.

"We've made significant changes to address the EC's concerns, greatly increasing the visibility of rival services and addressing other specific issues," he said.

The European Commission hopes to close the case next spring.

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