September 23, 2014

EU sees #Google as the new #Microsoft

Here's the latest details on the European Union's battle against what it sees as monopolistic practices, and a monopolistic default position, on Internet search engines by the giant Google.

As with Microsoft, I applaud the EU's concern. But, how to address this issue differs a fair degree from Microsoft.

Microsoft was bundling Internet Explorer with its OS on Windows-based computers, if you remember. There's no bundling of that sort with Google.

That said, there is bundling, if you will, of Google advertising with its search engine.

Here's the issue as discussed so far:
The dispute has been running since 2010 when rivals, including British price-comparison site Foundem, complained about the way it displayed results. 
The deal suggested by Google in February was rejected after 20 formal complaints made the EU rethink its original decision to accept the proposals. 
Under the terms of the deal, Google agreed to reserve space near the top of its European search pages for competitors, which would be open to rivals to bid for via an auction. 
Rivals argued that Google's solution was unfair for a range of reasons, including the fact that Google would make money out of the changes.

I agree with the concerns in the last paragraph. I'm not sure that the money should go to the EU; maybe it could be donated to a program to buy computers for distribution in the developing world. 

I'm not totally sold on the crux of the solution in the third paragraph, even.

Fines are the next step, up to 10 percent of Google's $55 billion annual income. While Microsoft was not fined that steeply, it was fined more steeply than US regulators were even considering, with the hint of even steeper fines after that.

The EU is at least as bureaucratic as the US, and somewhat neoliberal, though, fortunately, not as much so as the US.

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