While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) couldn’t find any antitrust violations against Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in regards to its search results, the European Union seems to be closing in on a decision to find the tech giant guilty of antitrust law violations due to its placement of its partner Web sites at the top of its search results, “diverting traffic” away from rivals that might have more relevant content, according to EU commissioner Joaquin Almunia.
In the EU, Almunia and his antitrust team has promised to prevent Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) from altering search results to favor its own services and products, which he said draws business away from other companies that are direct competitors. “They are monetising [sic] this kind of business, the strong position they have in the general search market and this is not only a dominant position, I think – I fear – there is an abuse of this dominant position,” Almunia said. “We are still investigating, but my conviction is [Google is] diverting traffic.”
The interview Almunia conducted comes at a crucial time in the process of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) trying to reach a settlement with the EU before formal charges are placed. It’s possible that what Almunia said may give some public insight into the framework of any settlement deal that the EU reaches with Google. And while Almunia acknowledged a more cooperative Google in a recent meeting last month, the company insists that no admission of wrong would be required in any settlement.
Though the FTC did not find Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in violation of U.S. antitrust laws, Almunia insists that the case is different in the EU because there are different legal standards in Europe in regards to monopoly, and the secondary aspect that Google Search controls about 90 percent of the EU market.
Is there an area where Almunia agrees with the FTC?