Google satisfies concerns in EU antitrust investigation

The company agrees to display competing services in the same manner it displays results for its own services.

Google and the European Commission have come to an agreement over competition in the company's search results.

Joaquin Almunia, commission vice president in charge of competition, announced on Wednesday that Google has vowed to display search results for its own services in the same manner as those of competing offerings. In search results, Google will be required to show three competing services to its own products, such as its online office suite Google Docs.

According to Almunia, the three competitors will be chosen "through an objective method [and] will also be displayed in a way that is clearly visible to users and comparable to the way in which Google displays its own services."

Google and the European Commission have been going back and forth on allaying competition fears since last March when Almunia's office found through a preliminary conclusion that the search giant may have violated EU antitrust laws. Almunia's office, which opened the investigation in 2010, was ready to level Google with billions in fines if the company didn't find a suitable solution to the issues.

In addition to issues with search results, the Commission has said that Google should make it easier for companies to find other online advertising providers. The Commission also has been concerned with Google's use of third-party content for its services, such as Google News.

For its part, Google has attempted to provide concessions on several of the points raised. Until Wednesday, however, the Commission hasn't been pleased with the company's offerings.

To ensure Google makes good on its promise, an appointed, independent trustee will oversee the company's compliance for five years. The Commission hasn't said what might happen between the parties after that period of time.

Google and the European Commission may have come to an agreement, but it's not over yet. The Commission must now go back to the companies that brought complaints before its office to explain why this latest agreement with Google is in the market's best interests. After that period is up, the Commission can either ask for more concessions or finalize the deal.

This story has been updated throughout the morning.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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