Google settlement in U.S. unlikely to affect EU probe

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, January 4, 2013 13:40 EDT
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The decision by US authorities to close down an 18-month anti-trust investigation into Internet giant Google has no bearing on what the EU will do with its own probe, the European Commission said Friday.

The US Federal Trade Commission said Thursday it lacked a legal basis to bring a case against Google for allegedly abusing its dominance in Internet searches, but that it had won commitments from the company to end its “most troubling” practices.

The European Commission has “taken note of the FTC decision,” a spokesman said, adding that Brussels did not believe “this has any direct implication (for) our investigation.”

The spokesman said discussions with Google were ongoing.

Last month, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Brussels would seek an agreement with Google after the two sides had made progress in resolving EU anti-trust concerns in talks since July.

Almunia said he expected the company to come up with a series of measures in January which would then be assessed.

The EU launched its investigation in November 2010 following a complaint by several companies, including Ciao, owned by US software giant Microsoft, which added its own charge in early 2011.

If found at fault in an EU anti-trust case, a company can face a fine of up to 10 percent of its sales.

Critics say Google controls some 70 percent of the Internet search market — and the advertising that goes along with it — and may exert even more power in the mobile sector by controlling the Android operating system used on two-thirds of smartphones.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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