back to article Google wriggles out of FTC search smackdown. Now to Europe!

The dust has yet to settle on yesterday's ruling in which the US Federal Trade Commission cleared Google of biasing its search results to nobble its competitors. But rival Microsoft is already accusing the ad giant of failing to be a "responsible" leader and is claiming victory in the lengthy antitrust case. Google may have …


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  1. Big_Ted


    "In mid-December, Google was told by Almunia's office that it must convince its rivals that it competes fairly in the web search market or else face sanctions for alleged "abuse of dominance".

    Google was given a month to come up with a solution to complaints that it favours its own services over its competitors' products in web search results. Google could be fined $4bn - 10 per cent of its revenue - if no deal can be reached and it loses a subsequent legal battle with the European Commission. ®"

    So Google must convince MS etc that search results are fair or they could be fined ? Thats totally stupid, they should only need to show the EU Commission that they are not breaking any rules/laws with their results not have the compition have any input to the outcome. MS etc can of course and will have submited evidence and opinion already but its not their place to decide if the outcome is right.

    And why is it such a bad/shocking thing that a search engine by a company shows results with their own products first ? They are most likely the ones with the most clicks from the search anyway......

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: OK............

      Almunia faces the same problem the FTC did, he's constrained by law. Seems unlikely this particular test of acceptability would get past any judge or that Google would volunteer rather than go to court.

      It's posturing, as part of an overall package designed to coerce, that seems doomed to get cut from whatever package Google does concede. Though EU competition law is harsher than US and gives more rights to competitors it's not the 'get out of actually competing' card Fairsearch want it to be. The EU will probably manage to coerce more biting changes than the US managed but they still won't magically improve their whiny competitors failing business's.

    2. LarsG

      How much

      How much did they donate to Obama's presidential campaign?

    3. Joel Cholakians

      Re: OK............

      Regional UK, NZ, AU, FR, DE, CA, IE, and other countries such as India's (search results), have been changed.

      Remember the home page used to have 2 radio buttons, one World Wide, the other radio button was for Regional UK, IE, CA, etc country specific searches. (they buried it deeper twice, and thought we would not notice), run test cases to see how many local .fe, or or, or .ca websites appear at the top of search results, compared to .com domain names, especially .com from US based companies.

      Take a look at or,.

      Find what local and regional features they have buried away from the users home page and sub navigation. Once about a year ago, and again about 2-4 years ago. Did anyone even notice?

      1) Where has "Search pages from Canada" gone? Yes deeply buried. (they buried it deeper twice)

      2) Where has "Search pages from UK" gone, Yes deeply buried. (they buried it deeper twice)

      3) Where has "Search pages from New Zealand" gone, Yes deeply buried. (they buried it deeper twice)

      4) Where has "Search pages from Germany" gone, Yes deeply buried (they buried it deeper twice)

      etc.... for every other country and language out there.

      SiteLinks for top #1 ranking websites etc, or more than one link in the top 10 from the same domain name or sub domain name, is also anti-competitive and unfair. Why should they get even more real estate than the other top 9 sites, its already hard enough for #2 and number #3 sites to get traffic away from #1 and they are giving away more space. TO BE FAIR EACH SITE SHOULD GET THE SAME SPACE. If you don't believer me run a test case, and check the space allocated to #1 rankers for at least 100,000+ keywords. Everyone else gets way less space.

      Top US based website gets way more traffic, because there's simply more people in the USA using search, so how is a poor French or German or Indian website going to compete on the same keyword? The answer is they can't, not unless seriously gifted mathematicians expose the Google's search engine bias. Why do they hate other countries?

      I've got many years of pop-corn ready to watch and learn.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft's deceptions aren't helping...

      Most countries, Microsoft would have been in the dock over shenanigans like this...

      Surely THAT'S anti-trust and deceptive right there......

  2. jnffarrell1

    Hopefully, Google has cooperated with the EU in pointing out alternative paths to more open internet use. If the EU solves its problems with Google (and other potential or past monopolies) with rules that require reciprocal open and secure interfaces between all Apps and ecosystems the worldwide web will benefit.

    Search is not just list processing. It is a fundamental human behavior that evolved and facilitated human intelligence when the oral tradition and cave-art were the font of knowledge. It is essential that means of computer assistance to users seeking knowledge not be ruled out by high sounding words:

    1) Operating Systems, browsers and search Apps are all tied together with Apps for user orientation, commerce and productivity through open interfaces and open systems that somehow must communicate securely if user privacy is to be maintained on the web.

    2) Like it or not, data and Apps residing on servers will be carrying most of the computing load that is needed to assist users..

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Proven not-guity

    is not the same as "wiggled out"... biased much???

    This is the nuts of it.

    “The evidence the FTC uncovered through this intensive investigation prompted us to require significant changes in Google’s business practices. However, regarding the specific allegations that the company biased its search results to hurt competition, the evidence collected to date did not justify legal action by the Commission,”

    So Microsoft's claims that Google were biasing the search results to favor it's own products and services were found to be untrue.

    Will Microsoft and their band of cronies be paying the legal bills?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Mr Shitpeas, if that is indeed your real name

      Very first line of the FTC's announcement of the ruling: "Google Agrees to Change Its Business Practices to Resolve FTC Competition Concerns [...] in Online Search"


      1. Joel Cholakians

        Re: Mr Shitpeas, if that is indeed your real name

        KISS = Keep it simple keep it stupid.

        Lets write an automated computer test engine, and write test cases for the engine.

        --TEST CASE 001-- - type kiss - count the number of listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1? - type kiss - count the number of ie listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1? - type kiss - count the number of ca listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1? - type kiss - count the number of fr listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1? - type kiss - count the number of de listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1? - type kiss - count the number of listings, how many are top 10, or top 5, or top 3, or #1?

        --TEST CASE 002--

        Prove that even if every person (100% population- 60,776,238), in the UK, visited a UK website for a given keyword, but then in the USA just as many people (60,776,238 from 301,139,947 = 20%) visited a US website for the same keyword, who/what website should appear at the top of or US website or UK website?

        Now go forth and write many more test cases for the engine. Interpret the results, graph them, make generalisations, and share your research on online forums.

        1. hayseed

          Re: Mr Shitpeas, if that is indeed your real name

          If you restrict the language, you will get the most popular (roughly) results in your language. This might run a little roughshod over the UK, as qualilty products from the UK get lost in a torrent of "stuff" from the US,

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Proven not-guity

      @Barry: They haven't been proven not guilty, because they've not been to court. They do appear to have managed to persuade the FTC not to take them to court, which could be considered "wiggled out of".

      Before anyone chimes in with "innocent until proven guilty", I am not saying that they're not innocent or that they are guilty, rather than the charges have not been tried, therefore they haven't been *proven* to be either.

      As for your further question about who will pay, no-one should have to pay for an honestly made accusation, if people have to pay for access to justice that would be a very sad situation indeed.

    3. graeme leggett

      Re: Proven not-guity

      FTC say Google haven't been doing anything wrong, but Google decide to change how they operate.

      Bit like Starbucks and tax in the UK?

  4. Select * From Handle

    Google biasing search results...

    They could bias the results but its probably more like Google know their search algorithms inside out and how Google bots crawl websites giving them a better advantage of showing up in key word search results...

    1. Ragarath

      Re: Google biasing search results...

      Isn't this biasing the results?

      If you do not allow the competition to see what is needed to get the same results but only let them know a small portion of it, it is still bias.

  5. dotdavid

    "But rival Microsoft is already accusing the ad giant of failing to be a "responsible" leader and is claiming victory in the lengthy antitrust case."

    Unsurprising, as they seemingly funded most of it.

    1. dogged

      [citation needed]

      According to, there are at least 17 companies funding Fairsearch. One of them's Oracle, which is not exactly short of a few quid.

      "Contributed" I think is concrete. "Funded most of" sounds like fanboy squealing.

  6. Paul Shirley

    We remain hopeful that these agencies will stick to their established procedures

    Fairsearch (AKA Microsoft,Oracle and crapsearch panderers) real problem is the FTC *did stick to their established procedures*. Including the usual political zeal to find a big case to further individual careers, an unofficial but always present feature of these agencies.

    The FTC correctly noticed that without evidence of harm to *consumers* there was no cause for action. They also correctly noted and made clear in the statement that they'd noticed the complainants were making it up for self serving reasons. Microsoft's (AKA Fairsearch) real problem is that the FTC followed their procedures correctly, followed the law correctly and it didn't come up with the answer they wanted.

    Fairsearch/MS have had 2 years to tell lies non-stop, successfully convinced a depressing number of commentators to side with their self serving bleats but failed to convince the people that actually matter - the regulators and THE SEARCHING PUBLIC. It's now time for them to STFU. Compete with your products not by subverting the law and the facts.

  7. ratfox


    I noticed some time ago that googling for a stock market ticker like GOOG or AAPL, you get a graph of the stock price. However, clicking that graph has no effect: you need to choose from one of the three links below it, which bring to the finance products of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft respectively...

    If you search for a place, you only get a map which links to Google Maps. No link to Bing maps.

  8. Paul Shirley

    unreported detail of the SEP injunction ruling

    Details are now emerging that the FTC *did not* forbid seeking injunctions on Googles standards essential patents. What they actually did was require a 6months negotiation window *before* seeking injunctions. Paradoxically that may actually be massively helpful to Google. I can understand why the usual sources of PR sent to the Reg might not want to highlight this...

    One problem with FRAND licensing is it rarely sets time limits on the negotiation or acquisition of licenses. That makes companies cautious about going to court because courts tend to refuse to deal with cases till far more than 6months of failed negotiation has passed. Motorola waited several years before even asking for injunctions against Apple for example.

    Companies (and Google specifically) now have a good argument that 6 months is an appropriate delay. They can now initiate negotiations and if, like Apple, the other side stonewalls for 6 months they have a much improved chance of getting an injunction quickly. Getting it while the products are still selling. Getting it years quicker.

    The other aspect is that injunctions on FRAND patents where the other side showed willingness and good faith negotiation were already being consistently denied by the courts, the FTC changed nothing there. However many observers believe some higher US courts are swinging alarmingly to outright banning these injunctions even with bad faith from potential licensees, this FTC decision might just bring them back to a more balanced position.

    Bear in mind this was kicked off by Motorola finally losing patience with Apple over negotiating a FRAND rate. After several years. Apple's refusal to negotiate means this FTC ruling doesn't apply. The licence manoeuvres that led to Apple needing a licence are a different issue that the FTC doesn't seem interested in.

  9. wowfood


    If it's anticompetative to push their own products rather than competitors, should we expect to see the following court cases in the future?

    Asda vs Tesco, because in asdas search it doesn't show you tesco brand energy drink. And vica versa

    Dell vs HP because you can't buy an HP laptop from Dells website?

    Ford vs Citron, because dammit, when I went to the ford dealership I wanted a picasso and they wouldn't give me the information I wanted.

    If I went to any of those places I expect to see their products first, and don't expect to see any of the oppositions products. Microsoft et al should be thankful that they even appear on googles search engine. Hell if you go onto google and type in search engine you get the following (at the moment)






    if the top links were




    bing (don't use it, it sucks)


    yeah that'd be anticompetative. But it's not, it displays pretty much the same information every other engine does. The only reason they accuse it of being anti-competative is because it provides a better product and they can't keep up.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: So


      thats all

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: So

        actually thats not all

        learn to spell.

        you could even try googling the hard words (those with more than 4 letters)

  10. Alan Denman

    The Apple and Microsoft pincer movement is looking a bit stuck in the square corner.

    Yep, the underhand 'Google's a bad boy' tactics are not working.

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