For one month, the European Commission will let the public send feedback on Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG ) antitrust proposals.
It's no secret that the EC has been concerned about Google's growing power in the search market. Due to the company's dominance, it fears that the company is using its power to benefit itself in search and search advertising across the European Economic Area (EEA).
In March 2013, the EC formally informed Google that the following four practices may violate European Union antitrust rules:
- Google uses its search results to favor its own specialized web search services like restaurants, hotels, or product searches
- Google incorporates third-party website content within Google's specialized services
- Google requires third-party websites to buy all or most of their online search advertising from Google
- Google restricts third parties from running similar advertising campaigns on rival search engines
Altogether, the EC believes that these practices could harm consumers by reducing choice and stifling innovation in the search and search advertising fields.
In an effort to address the EC's antitrust concerns, Google has offered to commit to the following for five years:
- Label promoted links to Google's specialized search services, separate these promoted links from other web search results, and display links to three rival specialized search services
- Offer websites the option to opt-out their content from Google's specialized search services so that doing so does affect the third-party's Google search rank
- Remove any written or unwritten obligations that require websites to buy online search advertising only from Google
- No longer impose obligations that would prevent advertisers from managing search advertising campaigns across competing search engines
After the EC receives and takes the public's feedback into account, it may decide to make these proposals legally binding for Google.