FairSearch - for the right result

Statement from Thomas Vinje on Google’s bias

Over the weekend in a television interview Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia said that he
had “received new proposals from Google in the previous week.” He explained that “if the Commission
is satisfied with the new proposals, we can advance towards an agreed solution in the coming months.”

The following is a statement from Thomas Vinje,
Spokesman and Legal Counsel for FairSearch
and a Partner at Clifford Chance

Brussels – 9 September 2013 – Any resolution of search complaints will require that the remedies correct the problems which Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia has laid out over the past 16 months. Given the failure of Google to make a serious offer last time around, we believe it is necessary that customers and competitors of Google be consulted in a full, second market test.

Commissioner Almunia first laid out his concerns on 21 May 2012 (click here for Mr Almunia’s full statement). The first of his concerns was that Google’s biased display of results favours its own products. We stick by the same principles as in the past: A settlement will achieve Almunia’s goal of restoring competition to Internet search and related markets if it delivers positive answers to the following questions:

  • Does Google apply the same rules to its own services as it does to others when it returns and
    displays search results?
  • Does Google always provide the user with the most relevant results at the top of the search
    page, even if those come from non-Google sites?
  • Is Google prevented from blacklisting competing companies or categories of companies from
    appearing in the top search results (for example, online travel agencies or metasearch sites)?
  • Is Google prevented from using the quality scores and minimum bids it assigns to each website
    as a pricing mechanism to exclude competitors from appearing in the top display of search results?

The deal should also include a fast-track dispute resolution mechanism administered by a third party monitor, to ensure that the settlement ends Google’s search bias and other practices identified by Commissioner Almunia as potential abuses of dominance.