Published: Wed, March 20, 2019
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Google tweaks search after European Union competition scrutiny

Google tweaks search after European Union competition scrutiny

In the wake of the multiple anti-trust claims by the European Commission, Google has finally taken a step to ensure there's fair competition on the Android Platform. Now, Google has created separate licenses for its Google Play, Chrome and Search software, enabling manufacturers to partner with Microsoft of Firefox if they so choose.

The company may have some of the deepest pockets in the industry, but it will still be hoping that with its latest announcement it managed to avoid further fines from the European Commission. Google only began changing its practices in 2016 when the Commission raised its concerns.

Google has said it will make changes to how search results are displayed within the European Union, in response to scrutiny it has faced over competition practices.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, said: "Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. Throughout this process, we've always agreed on one thing一that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest", said Google's senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, in a written statement issued ahead of the new fine. "For almost a decade, we've been in discussions with the European Commission about the way some of our products work", he says.

However, Google included "exclusivity clauses" in some AdSense contracts which prevented publishers from placing ads from Google rivals on their search pages.

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Then in July 2018, the Commission fined Google €4.34 billion for "illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices" to strengthen the dominance of Google's search engine.

"Over the next few months, we'll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe", Walker said.

The reason for Google's current fine was explained by the Commission in its ruling today. The company will now offer European Android users a choice over what browser and search engine they use, forcing a selection from both new and existing users.

The European Commission hit Google with a record $5 billion fine previous year, stating that its Android OS was anti-competitive with its pre-packed Chrome browser.

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