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Google will escape fines in EU antitrust case by promoting rival services

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
February 5, 2014
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Google has finally reached a settlement in its long-running dispute with the European Commission over the way that it displays search results. From now on, it must give equal visibility to rivals like Bing and Yahoo when it shows ads for its own products and services, like hotel reservations or customer ratings. The EU has been probing Google for over three years now about its practices, and recently said that it would need to substantially improve its offer, and fast, or face a fine of up to $5 billion. Google's competitors accused it of burying their ads in its search results, and a recent offer to display them in a shaded box was sharply rejected. A way of showing such services so that they're "clearly visible" to consumers as equal to Google's will now be determined "objectively," according to the commission. Once that happens, it'll need to comply for at least five years.

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