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NYT: Europeans Insisting Google Address Search Bias


While the Federal Trade Commission is reportedly focused on other anti-competitive practices than Google’s biased search results in settlement talks with Google, Joaquín Almunia, vice president of the European Commission and the commissioner responsible for competition, is apparently focused on finding a solution to this crucial issue that represents the most harmful conduct by Google.

According to a report from The New York Times, European authorities have insisted Google address concerns related to its preferential placement for Google sites, known to some as search bias or manipulation, in any settlement.

For some time, FairSearch has said that requiring the fair and unbiased display of search results on Google is a key desired outcome of the many antitrust reviews of Google’s practices underway around the world. As FairSearch made clear in laying out its “Principles for Evaluating Remedies to Google’s Antitrust Violations,” any package of remedies that does not end Google’s search bias would simply be incomplete in restoring the competition that empowers consumers to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for ideas and goods and services.

Restoring objectivity to Google’s search results is needed so innovation and businesses can thrive on the Web. Countless Internet entrepreneurs and small business owners – see Jeremy Stoppelman, founder and CEO of Yelp; Internet entrepreneur Tim Carter of AsktheBuilder.com; and John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org among others – have explained in detail how Google’s demotion of sites in search results and preferential treatment for Google product sites has harmed their businesses and thousands of others.

Earlier this year, Almunia outlined four areas of concern where Google may be violating the law. The first item on that list refers to Google’s search bias that promotes its own services over others in the display of results. For months now, Almunia has been asking Google to propose a serious and binding way to eliminate the legal and competitive concerns he raised publicly in May 2012.

According to Reuters, Almunia said at a news conference today “we are not there yet.” With regulators on either side of the Atlantic Ocean seeking resolutions in their respective cases, FairSearch reiterates that any package of remedies should include enforceable, strong measures for Google to deliver fair and unbiased search results.