Google has been the subject of an antitrust investigation in Europe since 2010, and the search giant may soon begin to feel the heat. The European Union’s antitrust chief has told Google that solutions to the antitrust concerns should be offered in a “matter of weeks”. Joaquin Almunia, the EU Competition Commissioner, says that Google has expressed its intent to cooperate fully on several occasions, and has decided to put that to the test.
The letter that was sent to Google outlines how the company must come up with a solution to the accusations within the next few weeks, or potentially face formal charges plus a fine. Almunia said in a statement: “"I believe that these fast-moving markets would particularly benefit from a quick resolution of the competition issues identified. Restoring competition swiftly to the benefit of users at an early stage is always better than lengthy proceedings.”
Google says that it’s willing to discuss the proposed changes, and if the company comes up with a suitable solution for the Commission, the investigation would be dropped without any charges or fines being issued. The investigation began when Microsoft and several other companies complained about Google’s layout on its homepage. The main complaint is over the promotion of Google’s own services above others, such as Maps and Shopping, something which the companies say is unfair considering Google’s large market share.
The Commission also believes that the scraping of content from other providers is a cause for concern: for example, Google takes results from restaurant review sites and places them next to its own search results. What Google will do in response to the letter is unclear, but we’ll find out sooner rather than later thanks to the tight deadline imposed by Almunia.