back to article Google has some sort of plan for not favouring its own shopping service

About three hours before the deadline on a 60-day compliance period, Google has submitted its plans for meeting a European Union antitrust order. Regulators slapped Google with a €2.42bn fine in June for putting its shopping service ahead of others in search results, and ordered it to stop within 90 days. The search giant had …

  1. AndyS

    Off topic, but...

    ...I am always curious about these legal deadlines.

    Is there someone sitting waiting in an office, staring at their phone, waiting for Google to call? Do Google have the number of the exact person, and does that person never sleep?

    What is the advantage of leaving submissions of this sort to the last minute, and what is the incentive for the party (in this case the court) to allow submissions out of office hours?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Off topic, but...

      Based on my prior involvement with legal and regulatory data submissions:

      Is there someone sitting waiting in an office, staring at their phone, waiting for Google to call?

      Normally no, because most documents are emailed or couriered in hard copy. If you're trying to be obstructive you always send hard copy, because its not electronically searchable (and if the recipient scans it, they have to take responsibility for proofing and errors in scanning). Up against a deadline, there will be somebody responsible for monitoring the receiving email address, or on post room duty to receive documents, if need be in unsocial hours, but nobody senior will be leaping on the documents at three in the morning, shouting "let's get to work!".

      Do Google have the number of the exact person, and does that person never sleep?

      See above. Sometimes the recipient is named, but often it for the attention of a particular post-holder or the head of the regulator. All you need is 24 hour cover on reception/security to sign for hard copy, and an email system that time stamps the arriving email.

      What is the advantage of leaving submissions of this sort to the last minute, and what is the incentive for the party (in this case the court) to allow submissions out of office hours?

      If the company is expecting to be given a kicking, then by delaying they put that off and buy a few more days for their own legal team to invent excuses or find legal loopholes, but mainly to review and re-review the submission to try and avoid any problems. With a complex regulatory investigation, the inquisitors' ask for a lot of commercially sensitive information, and there's ample opportunity for letting slip things that you'd rather not tell, or opening new lines of inquiry. In the recent UK investigation into energy suppliers, they had to tell the regulator what profits they made by customer segment - whilst they can't lie or withhold requested data, they wouldn't want to give away anything they don't have to, because it is embarrassing enough to admit that its all your poorer customers who are the most profitable, but you really wouldn't want any additional and unrequested detail to slip out that showed the companies were intentionally milking that segment.

      One major driver of last minute submissions is also the complex nature of court or regulator's questions, the job of writing, collating, multiple levels of management review, then legal and board review, all of which mean that its usually rare to be able to make a detailed regulatory response early.

      There's no particular incentive for a court to allow unsocial hours responses, it depends whether the original requirement specified anything about when the response could be returned, which might be "no later than 29 July", which by definition goes up to 23:59, or it could have demanded "by 17:00 on 29 July".

      1. AndyS

        Re: Off topic, but...

        Thanks AC, interesting response.

  2. WibbleMe

    At least they are not trying to pattern a corner like Amazon

    1. Test Man
  3. Patched Out

    Google's plan is thus:

    "Dear EU, Bite my shiny metal a$$*!"

    * Note American spelling of a$$

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just don't use Google

    Then their favouritism can go right up their own ARSE and stay there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just don't use Google

      Try not using or touching google.

      Hint: Look at the scripts run on every major site that reports back to Google so they don't need to use cookies anymore to find you. Ask yourself why people still include google analtytics in their page when they can and do get better analytics on their own?

      Just saying...

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Just don't use Google

        Yes, it can be hard to avoid Google, but if you use a script blocker (uMatrix, noscript, etc.) then you can permanently block a lot of those scripts, especially googleanalytics, and others.

        It is, of course, not perfect, but at least I tried....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just don't use Google

        Which alternatives to G-analytics would you recommend?

  5. hellwig

    I wonder...

    What would the impact to EU businesses be if Google just stopped serving links to other sites at all. Alphabet may want to run the world, but maybe let the EU go? I hear it's on it's last legs anyway.

    What if they turned Google EU into a Google service search engine? There's no fundamental law of the universe that says Google HAS to index the internet, that's just what they chose to do. Its unclear to me why, if I want to search the internet for "some product", Google has to show me any links related to "some product" that aren't just Google's own services.

    The EU has already made it clear Google is NOT for indexing the entire internet, only what they think is OK to show (e.g. right to be forgotten). If Google just made no claims it was showing you everything it knew about the internet, and made it explicit it was only showing you what it wanted to show you, wouldn't that be legit? Sure, some people would leave Google, but lets be honest, most people just don't care as much as EU regulators.

    1. Teiwaz
      Thumb Up

      Re: I wonder...

      There's no fundamental law of the universe that says Google HAS to index the internet

      Is this one of those 'yee-haw' American company 'X' doesn't have to bend to the will of 'Y' foreign government?

      That would kill Google in Europe...Sure go ahead. It's give a competing service a really great break and we all know competition is good.

      A Google that only returned Google hits? And you think only some people would leave?

      1. hellwig

        Re: I wonder...

        Google hits and people who paid Google for hits.

        EU's problem is that Google offers a "free" service: indexing the internet. If you put a website on the internet with the proper meta-data, Google will index that site and show it in relevant searches.

        However, Google also offers paid-displays. You can pay Google to show your website alongside certain searches. The EU seems to be upset that Google will show it's own properties alongside it's open/free search results. Really, if Google marked it's own properties as "ads" like it does with all paid displays, could the EU really find any fault here?

        How many people scroll past the first page of search results? I'm guessing it's an insignificant minority. If the first page is full of Ads instead of open/free search results, as long as those ads offer the services and information people are searching for, why would people stop using Google?

        I'm not saying this is a good thing, I'm just saying Google is a freaking corporation offering a free service on the internet. People seem to be upset they aren't getting their money's worth, but considering they pay Google nothing to index their site, they ARE getting their money's worth. If people want their services displayed on Google's results with priority, they can pay Google for that privilege.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope the EU is satisfied by the measures

    If Google has to turn off their price comparison engine, there's a whole bunch of online stores that are going to go ape shit.

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: I hope the EU is satisfied by the measures

      It's not the price comparison engine.

      It's the general search engine. The claim is, google elevates shopping results from its own stores above what the general search ranking algorithm should do. If a google store result was, for example, ranked 14, then showing it as 14 would be fine. However, google would ignore their own algorithm's "neutral" ranking (what they normally use to rank all the web pages out there) of 14, and instead elevate it to, say 1 or 2.

  7. cysec

    Typical example of being penalised for running a successful company..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Making a profit does not equate to success.. How you go about it matters. Profit via "abuse" of power does not make for a "successful" company, accepting that what constitutes "abuse" is subjective.

      So arguing for striking the right balance would be valid, calling any regulatory step a "penalty" isn't.

      Ultimately "successful" companies require regulation to serve the ultimate purpose of any and all laws - the wider good - for humanity and society.

      No monopolies is what I say. Yes if you are that successful, you're too successful. You're eliminating competition, instead of competing.

      The wider good takes over and laws must ensure this. A free market cannot function without competition - it is designed to only work with it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never mind shopping

    It's the other investigation what I've been waiting for.

  9. Thunder pants

    Does the same apply to Amazon

    Traders on Amazon will tell you that their listing are vanishing before their very eyes and being replaced by FBA ones. Traders are having to pay a fee and having there listing being crowded out by the ever growing Prime Free Delivery orders. These are seldom good deals and buyers are being duped into this. Surely the EU will have to investigate this, seeing how big Amazon has become?

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