EU puts Google back in the hot seat

Oliver Smith
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THE EUROPEAN Union antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia put Google back in the hotseat yesterday by reversing his position from February that the search giant would avoid fines after it agreed to make concessions on how it displayed competitors’ links on its website.

Almunia said in a speech that complaints from Google’s competitors had “given us fresh evidence and solid arguments against several aspects of the latest proposals put forward by Google”.

Google has been the subject of a Competition Commission investigation into its search practices since 2010 when complainants, including Microsoft, accused it of promoting its own services.

In February, Google said it would let three rivals display their logos and web links in a prominent box along with its results, as well as a number of other concessions.

The competition chief yesterday said that the antitrust investigation into Microsoft lasted 16 years, and that case was not as complex as the Google one, indicating the case may roll on into the next legislative term.

Google, which has been working with the EU for four years on the issue, said it would continue to do so.