Google Makes Proposals to European Commission to End Antitrust Probe; Google Shopping Bans Weapon-Listings

Google to comply with the European Commission's July 2 deadline outlined proposals to address it's four antitrust "concerns.""Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt sent EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia a letter responding to the probe, the EU said in a statement. The settlement offer addresses the "four areas the European Commission described" as potential concerns, Google […]

Google Makes Proposoal to European commission to End Antitrust Probe

Google to comply with the European Commission's July 2 deadline outlined proposals to address it's four antitrust "concerns."

"Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt sent EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia a letter responding to the probe, the EU said in a statement. The settlement offer addresses the "four areas the European Commission described" as potential concerns, Google spokesman Al Verney said in a separate e-mail. Details of the proposals weren't disclosed," Bloomberg reports.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is under growing pressure from global regulators probing whether the company is thwarting competition in the market for Web searches. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and antitrust agencies in Argentina and South Korea are also scrutinizing the company.

"Three of the four areas are relatively easy to address," Greg Sterling, a senior analyst at Opus Research, said in a statement. "The 'concern' about placement of 'Google content' in search results is more problematic given that it goes to the heart of Google's ability to control its search experience and algorithm."

  1. "Google's "vertical" results: "In general search results, Google displays links to its own vertical search services differently than it does for links to competitors. We are concerned that this may result in preferential treatment compared to those of competing services, which may be hurt as a consequence."
  2. Use of third party reviews content: "Google may be copying original material from the websites of its competitors such as user reviews and using that material on its own sites without their prior authorisation. In this way they are appropriating the benefits of the investments of competitors."
  3. AdSense exclusivity: "The agreements [with publishers displaying Google ads] result in de facto exclusivity requiring them to obtain all or most of their requirements of search advertisements from Google, thus shutting out competing providers of search advertising intermediation services."
  4. Portability of ad campaigns from AdWords: "We are concerned that Google imposes contractual restrictions on software developers which prevent them from offering tools that allow the seamless transfer of search advertising campaigns across AdWords and other platforms for search advertising."," notes Sterling.

In other Google news,

Google is now notifying merchants that it won't allow listing of weapons-related items for sale in Google Shopping.

Searches in Google Shopping for things like "pistol grip shotgun" (above), "gun scopes," "shotgun shells" and many other terms are leading to a results page that says the term "did not match any shopping results."

The letter says that Google will "begin to enforce a set of new policies for Google Shopping in the coming weeks," and links to a Google Shopping policies page that lists "guns, ammunition and knives" as prohibited products.

Google Shopping Bans Weapons-listing, Nitifies Merchants