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Google and EU Reach Tentative Settlement in Antitrust Case 45

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the move-icon-50px-to-avoid-fine dept.
AmiMoJo writes "Google has agreed to display competing site's results along side those from its own products in search results. The agreement comes as part of an EU investigation into Google's domination of the search market and its promotion of Google products at the top of each page. The EU has published screenshots (scroll down) showing how the changes will look once rolled out." Part of the deal includes Google avoiding any fines. The appearance changes to search results are minor; Google services in the results are more strongly highlighted as such, and links to alternative services are provided (e.g. Yelp for Google Local results). Less visible are the major changes: third parties will be able to opt-out of having their data used for specialized Google searches, and "Google proposes no longer to include in its agreements with publishers any written or unwritten obligations that would require them to source online search advertisements exclusively from Google ... [or] to impose obligations that would prevent advertisers from porting or managing search advertising campaigns across competing advertising platforms."
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Google and EU Reach Tentative Settlement in Antitrust Case

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  • Nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:13PM (#46163545)

    Damn nice to see that last part about competing ad platforms. That sort of clause is the sort of thing I would expect Apple to do. It's pretty blatently ant-competitive.

    • Dissent. On the right side, I see a pile of results from online stores. The first line result is from Google Froogle. Now you're going to mix them so I have to do some mental work to pick apart the two? I can't just blindly click "that's what I want, let's see who sells it" versus "that's what I want... at Sears.com eh?"

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        I'm not talking about that stuff, as I agree with you. I don't like people trying to lock people out of using competing services. This stuff:

        no longer to include in its agreements with publishers any written or unwritten obligations that would require them to source online search advertisements exclusively from Google ... [or] to impose obligations that would prevent advertisers from porting or managing search advertising campaigns across competing advertising platforms.

        .

        That's just wrong and should be stopped.

      • I never use Froogle (actually Product search now). It's always been like shifting through a pool filled with shit to find a gem.
    • Apple? They did get slapped with anti-trust issues when colluding with publishers on e-book pricing. Apart from that, though, Apple is a curious choice when finding examples of technology companies with past anti-trust abuses. The far more obvious picks here would have been Microsoft or Bell Labs.
    • If I wanted to use a competing platform, I wouldn't be going to google.com. I'm not, I'm going to google for google's search, not to be spammed with crappy "alternates".
      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        Once again, I'm not talking about search results here. I'm talking about contracts that forbid you from using competing services.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Damn nice to see that last part about competing ad platforms. That sort of clause is the sort of thing I would expect Apple to do. It's pretty blatently ant-competitive.

      One has to wonder how much Google pays Apple to keep up the idea of competition with iAds. Given the only reason Google could acquire AdMob (THE largest mobile advertising company out there) was because earlier that year, Steve Jobs announced iAds. Which is quite curious since AdMob advertises everywhere, while iAds was very restrictive. It'

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So in summary, google did evil (once again) and to punish it, google is being forced to do away with one of its few remaining good deeds (giving smaller retailers a more even footing with big companies). Thanks big gov-corp-bank-iont.

  • Less Useful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swv3752 (187722) <`swv3752' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:30PM (#46163713) Homepage Journal

    So while Google has to stop anti-competitive practices, they also have to make there web pages less useful. Brilliant.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by QuasiSteve (2042606)

      Kind of like the decision of Windows * N, offered without windows media player?

      And one can counter that "at least the user can still download an alternative media player", but then.. so could they with the regular version.

      I'm not sure how Google's web pages are going to be less useful anyway. It's still going to give you Google's top results, just a few less of them to make space for alternatives. If those alternatives are demonstrably bad, then sure they don't deserve a spot in there. But if they're rea

      • by dkman (863999)
        That's why I didn't want IE removed from Windows - because it's what I use to go download Firefox. It would be nice to be able to remove it afterwards, though.
      • by swillden (191260)

        If those alternatives are demonstrably bad, then sure they don't deserve a spot in there. But if they're reasonably good, surely it only helps the user to check further options?

        Maybe.

        It depends on how Google allocates spots. If Google's own properties compete fairly with the competitors in the ranking algorithm, with no favoritism shown, and if Google's ranking algorithm is good, then this change represents a reduction in utility. If Google artificially bumps their own properties, then it may be an improvement.

        I strongly suspect that the former is the case, since it's just the way Google does things. If some team asked the ad ranking team to artificially inflate its position I

        • It's a bit of a problem where by being the leading product, promoting your other products - even if inferior - allows you to make those products appear to be more popular, which in turn gets more people using them, which in turn means (at least as I understand the most basic aspects of ranking - I know there's way more variables) that it gets a higher spot.

          Even if there's no favoritism being shown now, any past favoritism would have already skewed the market.

          In addition, I question whether showing competing

          • by swillden (191260)

            It's a bit of a problem where by being the leading product, promoting your other products - even if inferior - allows you to make those products appear to be more popular, which in turn gets more people using them, which in turn means (at least as I understand the most basic aspects of ranking - I know there's way more variables) that it gets a higher spot.

            Perhaps. This really gets into a question of what the ranking algorithm is measuring, and whether or not it does what it's supposed to do. Given that neither of us knows anything about how Google actually does it, that line of discussion is fruitless :-)

            I think that the reworked results page is a compromise - Google still gets to put their products / the top results (regardless of overlap) first, but also shows alternatives.

            I don't disagree. I'm not sure that it's the best thing for the user, but neither is terrible. At worst it damages Google slightly in exchange for giving regulators some confidence that they don't have to just trust Google and its algorithms. I think it's a

    • How is this more anti-competitive than McDonalds' refusing to sell Wendy's products?
  • In related news... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jkrise (535370) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:30PM (#46163715) Journal

    Florian Mueller had an apoplexy on hearing the news; and is trying his damnedest to put a negative spin on big bad Google.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure how the EU can mandate results in the "Sponsored" section. If alternatives get in for free, then they're no longer "sponsored". If Google decides the price, then they can charge 1 billion dollar per impression to exclude everyone except their own products. Is the EU mandating the price?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sort of. From the article:

      Rivals will have to pay Google each time their results are shown next to the search giant’s own results through a bidding process overseen by an independent monitor, according to European officials.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:03PM (#46164033)

    Will I get the choice to turn alternatives off, should I choose to not see them?

  • by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @02:20PM (#46164873)

    Seriously people, just use Bing.
    Sign up for the Rewards shit and get free Redbox rentals or free gift cards for Amazon.com .
    You'll get a massively better search experience for porn, and a better search experience for maps (this is more subjective though - I love Bing's aerial view), and almost an identical search experience for everything else. Bing doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Google (I don't think they have auto translate or reverse image search) but for 99.999% of what I search for, Bing gets me there just as fast as Google, and they pay me for the privilege.

    Regardless of what you use, remember to block ads always and block javascript by default. Fuck em. The ad-supported web is a cesspool, and if the internet ad business died tonight we'd all be better off in terms of privacy, security, performance, layout and design, speed, and probably even content - no more aggregators, much less spam and far fewer parked domains, fewer shitty youtube "celebrities", etc.

    • Regardless of what you use, remember to block ads always and block javascript by default. Fuck em. The ad-supported web is a cesspool, and if the internet ad business died tonight we'd all be better off in terms of privacy, security, performance, layout and design, speed, and probably even content

      And we'd all get to pay for this content. No thanks. I have some issues with the Internet, but I'm rather okay with it the way it is.

      • Regardless of what you use, remember to block ads always and block javascript by default. Fuck em. The ad-supported web is a cesspool, and if the internet ad business died tonight we'd all be better off in terms of privacy, security, performance, layout and design, speed, and probably even content

        And we'd all get to pay for this content. No thanks. I have some issues with the Internet, but I'm rather okay with it the way it is.

        I'd rather pay for content I want than have shit as it is now. But hey, maybe that's just because I'm not a useless teenage sponge and I actually have a job.

        • Yeah! Fuck the third world! Fuck free access to information! I want my pages to look pretty and load marginally faster!
  • In the shopping example, the results returned in the modified screen shot are crap. Did the EU force that too? That's not anti-competitive, that's anti-user.

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