To Bing or Not to Bing? That is the question

microsoft-pixabayIt was earlier today that the Vice-President of the European Commission, Joaquin Almunia, received an open letter signed by a dozen complainants that ask for the strictest possible punishment in the long pending Google Antitrust case. This letter signed by 11 internet companies came as the next strategic move of the fierce Anti-Google lobby that is playing all its cards now in its effort to convince the European Commission that Google is evil and that no settlement should be accepted with the Internet giant.

Same old Story

The antitrust investigation of the Commission against Google, which will celebrate next November its 3-year anniversary, as expected, has not yet come to conclusion. It was indeed in last month’s article at the Sting with the title “It ain’t over until Google says it’s over” where I wrote that “it will take quite some time until the DG Competition makes any announcement on this complex issue”. Almost two months have passed since then and still we‘ve got no official announcement by Mr. Almunia on Google’s reply to the DG Comp concerns.

As was stated in my story back then, the Commission called Google to answer four competition concerns:

“First, in its general search results on the web, Google displays links to its own vertical search services…differently than it does for links to competitors.

Our second concern relates to the way Google copies content from competing vertical search services and uses it in its own offerings… This practice may impact for instance travel sites or sites providing restaurant guides.

Our third concern relates to agreements between Google and partners on the websites of which Google delivers search advertisements…The agreements result in de facto exclusivity requiring them to obtain all or most of their requirements of search advertisements from Google…

Our fourth concern relates to restrictions that Google puts to the portability of online search advertising campaigns from its platform AdWords to the platforms of competitors.”

Since May 2012 when those concerns were published, Google has remained silent and only the last day of January they sent their answer with suggestions on how to resolve the issue and reach a settlement with the European Commission. Since then nothing has been officially announced by the two parties that fell into a deep almost two month negotiation. According to the Sting’s sources, Google is looking for a settlement and so does Mr. Almunia who had originally admitted that he is in favour of a settlement. One thing is for sure, though, Google will not get away with it as easily as they did with the Federal Trade Commission in the US at the beginning of the year where they won in a rather similar antitrust case.

It’s a Microsoft campaign after all

There is a common denominator in both cases, the antitrust investigation against Google in the US and in Europe, and this is that in both cases similar letters were written to lobby the Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission accordingly. And the similarity is not focused only on the writing style which is stressing on the unfair monopolistic behaviour of Google but also on the names of the writers of those complain/lobby letters. In both cases there is at least one common sender address and that is the UK-based price comparison outfit called Foundem that since 2010 keeps complaining both in the US and Europe about Google’s evil operation. Together with Foundem other companies like Fairsearch, Hotmap, Expedia and Trip Advisor joined this Anti-Google crusade claiming that the way Google lists search results prohibits their own links to get positioned high. All the above companies are either widely backed by the software giant Microsoft like Fairsearch in the US, or belong at the European lobbyist group for companies doing business in the digital arena, called iComp.

As pointed out in my previous story on Microsoft’s Anti-Google campaign, iComp in Europe was one of the protagonists during the 2010 initial antitrust investigation by the European Commission. It seems that since it has been leaked that probably the Commission will come to a settlement with Google, Microsoft, the biggest iComp member, is using the lobby organization to give the last lobby fight against Google. In today’s letter those 11 companies are basically repeating or, better said, reminding to Mr. Almunia his own complaints. Moreover, the 11 companies are urging the Commission to issue the Statement of Objections (SO). SO is a legal instrument used by the Commission to describe the antitrust case and give a deadline for a company response. If the company fails to reply, then it can be fined with up to 10% of its turnover. Apparently, Microsoft urgently demands Google’s blood spill.

Googling “truth almunia antitrust google”

As in my previous story on the issue and since the EC does not uncover Google’s defense on the allegations, the conclusion cannot be different this time. Bing is losing game and match and Microsoft is using any means to hurt the lord of the rings in the search engine market. Nevertheless, it is quite unclear what can be the benefit for the European consumer out of all this. It would have been better if we were presented with Google’s point of view so that we can weigh things and judge. Then, we could see for ourselves whether Google is monopolistic or not. Instead, neither the Commission nor Google uncover any information, leaving the most important stakeholder of this issue, the European Internet surfer, outside of the house.

What is Mr. Almunia afraid of? And if he cannot uncover any important details before the final decision is made, are we going to find out ever what is the position of Google in all this? This spooky covert negotiation of the EC with Google while Microsoft’s lobbyists are protesting outside Berlaymont really gives me the creeps. The European consumer deserves to find out the truth behind this corporate lobby war. After all, it is her that is going to Google or Bing tomorrow “Almunia Antitrust Google”.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The ‘ASEAN way’: what it is, how it must change for the future

Christmas spending: Who can afford not to cut?

The three sins the EU committed in 2015

Colombia: Santos thanks the EU for its support to the peace process

The smartest cyber investment is collective action. Here’s why

CDNIFY @ TheNextWeb 2014

How responsible businesses can step forward to fight coronavirus

Colourism: How skin-tone bias affects racial equality at work

No tears for Cyprus in Brussels and Moscow

Technology is a means, not an end

Sexual education in a school at the Brazilian Amazon

How do we design an inclusive energy transition?

The EU will always have a stable partner in Montenegro, says President Đukanović

Financial system risk is elevated and global standards are essential in managing cross-border infrastructure investment

The different ways of care: Is there a general rule to follow?

EU mobilises further €15.2 million humanitarian support for food safety, epidemics preparedness and support to people in conflict areas in Latin America and Caribbean

Brussels to tear down the trade wall with Mexico as opposed to Trump’s “walls”

China in my eyes

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “If we do not do properly the Paris agreement, then all 16 remaining goals will be undermined”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautions from Davos

These are the fastest trains in the world

Electronic cigarettes, a better alternative or a well-advertised product

Germany hides its own banks’ problems

EU-UK: A deal synonymous to ‘remain’, England pays the Irish price

New rules on drivers’ working conditions and fair competition in road transport

Dieselgate: Parliament calls for mandatory retrofits of polluting cars

The refugee crisis seen through the eyes of a young doctor from Turkey

€5 billion of EU energy efficiency project money spent on “comfort”

Alcohol abuse kills three million people a year, most of them men – WHO report

European Youth Forum demands immediate action & binding agreement on climate change

Vote at 16 in Malta: next stop Europe

Britain offers more money for an orderly Brexit but the Irish question resurges

What options the new President of Ukraine has?

South Sudan: ‘Outraged’ UN experts say ongoing widespread human rights violations may amount to war crimes

7 amazing ways artificial intelligence is used in healthcare

Learn from the margin, not the center: digital innovation with social impact as transformative force bridging digital divide

Eurozone cannot endure any longer youth marginalisation

‘Young people care about peace’: UN Youth Envoy delivers key message to Security Council

It’s 100 years since US women got the right to vote, but how has gender equality changed?

MEPs agree on new rules to tax digital companies’ revenues

Here are six bold ideas to accelerate sustainable energy innovation

Energy Union: deals on efficiency targets and governance

3 charts to help you understand the American shale boom

EU27 leaders unite on Brexit Guidelines ahead of “tough negotiations” with Theresa May

VW diesel scandal and climate change: can increased independent car checks lead to cleaner mobility?

New Report Offers Global Outlook on Efforts to Beat Plastic Pollution

China revisited by the former Ambassador of Hungary to China

Germany takes cover from Trump in Eurozone and decides to pay for it

Europe provides financial support to African countries while Turkey denies to change terrorism laws jeopardising the EU deal

Environment Committee MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

Trump doesn’t only target Germany, aims to crack the entire EU

Commission unveils its first Strategic Foresight Report: charting the course towards a more resilient Europe

The Council of Europe adopts Recommendation on young people’s access to rights

Peacekeeping chief highlights challenges facing UN Police

Brazil identifies a clear pathway for aligning its transfer pricing framework with the OECD standard

Why education and accountability are important for developing countries?

Syrian Government’s ‘different understanding’ of UN role, a ‘very serious challenge’ – Special Envoy

A 550 km-long mass of rotting seaweed is heading for Mexico’s pristine beaches

War in Syria: ‘Carnage’, flouting of rights and international law, must stop: Guterres

South Africa’s cabinet is now 50% women for the first time ever

Intel, Almunia and 1 billion euros for unfair potatoes

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s