The European Commission has agreed to Google's proposed changes to the way it presents some search results, ending a two-year antitrust investigation into the search engine giant, says a report by the New York Times, based on revelations by its sources.
Rivals Microsoft, Tripadviser and others had complained Google was allegedly favouring its own services in search results, thereby abusing its dominance in the sector. The new changes will quash those complaints in the eyes of the EU regulators, but are unlikely to completely satisfy the aggrieved parties.
As part of the changes, Google will clearly label search results from its own properties, including Google Plus, It will also show links to direct rivals where money can be made from those results.
In areas where all the search results are paid adverts, Google will be bound to auction those ad links to rivals.
In perhaps the biggest change, websites will be able to block some content from being read and reused by Google, without its having to be withdrawn completely from general search. For example, Yelp - which was one of the original complainants - would be able to restrict Google from getting complete access to its own database, and use all of the results itself. As it stands, Google could list the entire address, telephone number and other details of a company on Yelp, negating the need for a web user to click through.
The changes, when officially approved, will be in effect under a five-year binding contract. If Google breaches that agreement, it will face an enormous fine, of anywhere up to 10 per cent of its global annual sales.
Changes will not be made to the algorithm that Google uses for its search engine itself, much to its rivals' chagrin.
Pic: (cc) bryanh