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Experts Around the World React to European Commission’s Announcement

The European Commission’s announcement yesterday laying out the initial conclusions from its 18 month investigation into Google’s anticompetitive practices sparked reactions from experts and officials around the world.

The Wall Street Journal consulted Becket McGrath, a partner at law firm Edwards Wildman who worked at the UK’s Office of Fair Trading on cases in the technology sector, who said: “This is really an opening move by the [European] commission. It will be hard for Google to meet all the concerns without making fundamental changes to their business. So I don’t think this is the end of it.”

The Hill published a joint statement from U.S. Senators Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), the top Democrat and Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee: “We are pleased that the EU is working with Google to develop a set of voluntary solutions to the search engine’s problematic practices, including those that we identified at our September 2011 hearing. We are hopeful that Google will be a willing partner with the EU’s Competition Commissioner.  We continue to urge the FTC to investigate the concerns we raised at our hearing and to ensure a competitive search market where consumers can fairly pick the winners and losers in our online economy.”

The Register, in a piece called “Google snubs Euro watchdog’s ‘abuse of dominance claims,” reported that Google may finally have to respond to the concerns of enforcement authorities: “What might Google’s next step be? It seems unlikely that the company will simply roll over and let its belly be tickled by the commissioner. But with a market share of more than 90 per cent of search in Europe, the internet giant, much like with Microsoft’s software dominance before it, might very well have no choice but to concede.”

The Daily Mail explained other Google woes that may follow due to increasing scrutiny into Google’s Android software for mobile devices. In a piece called “EU gives Google ‘last chance’ to avoid multi-billion fine for fiddling search results to promote its own services” reporter Rob Waugh explains, “[e]ven if Google, the world’s most popular search engine, offers concessions, it will still be under the EU spotlight after fresh complaints about its Android mobile software, the top operating system for Internet-enabled smartphones.”

In a matter of weeks, it may become clear if Google will continue its empty “trust us” mantra to law enforcement officials, or whether the company will finally acknowledge that it must change its business practices to compete fairly and return the power to consumers to pick winners and losers on the Internet.