FairSearch - for the right result

Labeling Alone is Simply Not a Solution

The Financial Times reported today that Google has proposed to label its own services in search results in effort to resolve settlement talks with the European Commission.

The proposal “is an attempt to resolve regulators’ fears that Google is unfairly squeezing out other specialist information services on the web,” the FT reported, noting that the status of the negotiations remain “in flux.”

Whether this approach is acceptable to Joaquín Almunia, vice president of the European Commission and the commissioner responsible for competition, is unclear, the FT said. Members of FairSearch have made it clear that Google simply disclosing its anti-competitive practices does nothing to solve those misdeeds.

On Sept. 18, FairSearch issued the following open letter to the EC and the Federal Trade Commission, and we stand by its contents:

“The remedy to restore competition must be meaningful and enforceable. Simply requiring Google to accurately label its products, paid search results and advertisements will not undo the harm to competition that Google already has inflicted.

“A limited ‘remedy’ will not prevent Google from continuing its other exclusionary conduct, such as preferencing its own services or demoting the rankings of competitive sites. Rather, it would enable Google to retain the fruits of its unlawful conduct and would preserve Google’s dominance. In the end, placement matters far more than labeling.”

What’s needed are remedies that restore competition to the Internet and do not allow Google to benefit from the anti-competitive practices that made the company dominant in the first place.