Brussels ‘to force Google to change way it presents results’

by Katherine Rushton, The Telegraph  |  published on January 12, 2013

The European Union’s competition chief, Joaquin Almunia, said it is his “conviction” that Google is unfairly promoting links to its own services above those of third party companies, and that he fears it is abusing its dominant position.

Google has been locked in a long-running row over whether it has changed its search results to give preferential treatment to links to its own services, at the expense of those from competitors.

Last week US regulators gave Google the all-clear, but Mr Almunia, who is heading up a Brussels’ investigation into the matter, made it clear that he will take the opposite stance.

“We are still investigating, but my conviction is [Google is] diverting traffic,” he told the Financial Times.

“They are monetising this kind of business, the strong position they have in the general search market…This is not only a dominant position, I think – I fear – there is an abuse of this dominant position.”

Mr Almunia stressed that he was more concerned with the way that Google presents its results, rather than the complex codes at their heart. This distinction has sparked speculation that Google could be forced to clearly mark links to its own services, where it is found to have manipulated the search results to push them up the search rankings.

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