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Report: Google, EC in early settlement talks

Last November the European Commission opened a formal investigation of Google's business practices on that continent, and talks at resolving the matter have reportedly begun.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit

Google could be a little closer to resolving at least one of its regulatory headaches, according to a report.

Reuters notes that Google and the European Commission have entered into talks over the antitrust investigation that began last November. It's still pretty early in the process: Reuters' source said there were "some tentative discussions in resolving the issue, but no really concrete proposals on the table."

Google is even more dominant in Europe than it is in the U.S., with market share over 90 percent in a few countries. A few companies, led by Foundem, have long complained that Google unfairly penalizes their sites in search results because they compete with Google, a charge that Google denies.

When it launched the investigation the Commission said that it would investigate those complaints as well as complaints about Google's quality score for determining ad placement, but said it didn't necessarily have proof of any wrongdoing. Regulators have been sending questionnaires to Web businesses as part of their effort, as noted by Search Engine Land earlier this year.

The European investigation is the most significant probe of Google's business practices yet launched, although authorities in the U.S. have been sniffing around the proposed acquisition of ITA Software and the long-delayed ratification of Google's settlement with author and publisher groups over Google Book Search.