Google has published the full text of its proposed antitrust agreement with the European Union following an outcry from the company’s competitors.
Last week, the European Commission announced that it had reached a settlement with the search giant that would change how Google handles search results in Europe. It said that Google would be setting aside space in European search results to highlight competitors’ products alongside Google’s sponsored results. The agreement would further prohibit the search giant from requiring that advertisers sign exclusivity agreements.
But the EC didn’t “market test” the latest proposal by requesting comments from Google’s competitors, which drew protests from groups like FairSearch Europe, which represents companies including Microsoft, Expedia, Nokia and TripAdvisor.
“We are examining the offer now, and will comment when we have reviewed it,” FairSearch said in a statement. “We welcome Google’s unilateral decision to publish a non-confidential version of its commitments, but will continue to stress the importance of market testing to demonstrate the effectiveness of these commitments to restore competition to search.”
One of the points at issue for FairSearch was that competitors would have to pay Google for some of the rival ad placements, like those that would appear alongside popular product listing ads, creating another revenue stream for the search company. It appears those provisions remain in the agreement intact.
In a blog post, Google Senior Vice-President and General Counsel Kent Walker said that it was “unusual” for the company’s past two proposals to have undergone market tests, and that revealing the text of the current agreement was also an unusual move. Still, he said, the company was ready to have all of the antitrust proceedings behind it.
“While this process has been challenging, we are pleased to have a resolution of these issues and look forward to a continued focus on providing new generations of great services for our users,” Walker said.
The company may not be out of the legal woods yet, though. A representative of Euro-Cities, a German mapping service, said last week that the company could file a lawsuit to try and block the settlement if it wasn’t satisfactory. Moreover, a third of the members of the European Commission are opposed to the deal in its current form, according to a report by Reuters.
The news comes after a French court ordered the company to display a notification on its homepage last weekend to French users informing them that the company had lost a lawsuit regarding its privacy practices.
The full text of the proposed settlement is embedded below: