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Google faces July deadline for web search antitrust probe

Google has just weeks to prove it doesn't use its dominance in web search to promote its own services.

Google has until next month to prove it doesn't use its dominance in web search to promote its own products. Joaquin Almunia from the European Competition Commission has thrown down the gauntlet, the Telegraph reports.

"By early July, I expect to receive from Google concrete signs of their willingness to explore this route," Almunia told a conference in Switzerland. If Google fails to, it could face fines of around $4bn. Imagine the Google doodle that day.

The anti-monopoly investigation has been spurred by complaints by rivals claiming Google promotes its own services like price comparison ahead of others in search rankings. If Google refuses to play ball by the deadline, regulators will ping it a formal "statement of objections".

"In case we engage in negotiations to address our concerns and the proposals we receive turn out to be unsatisfactory, formal proceedings will continue through the adoption of a statement of objections," Alumnia added.

"[But] I strongly believe that users and competitors would greatly benefit from a quick resolution of the case."

The Commission can impose a fine of up to 10 per cent of Google's global revenues, which were $37.9bn last year.

Google's Eric Schmidt isn't backing down though. At a conference last month, he said: "We disagree that we are in violation. Until they are precise about what areas of the law we have violated, it will be very difficult for me to speculate."

Back in September Schmidt denied the claims, saying "we've not cooked anything." He also said he was confident Google's business practices would stand up to scrutiny, claiming it had learned the lessons of Microsoft's battles at the turn of the century.

Do you think Google promotes itself above others? And should its dominance be curtailed? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.