Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Google still controls your information, without the limit of EU ruling

After a long investigation, Google has finally reached a settlement with the European Commission about how it presents search results. The Commission had started investigating Google in the first place over concerns about its dominance of the search market in Europe, where it accounts for 90% of searches. This is even bigger than its dominance in the US, where it controls around two-thirds of the market. The company has been accused of prioritising its own webpages and those of rivals and has agreed to change its ways in order to avoid a fine of up to $5 billion.Search results will now have to report alternative options from other websites. Rather than demoting them in favour of sites that promote Google's own interests, as it has until now. To comply with the ruling, Google has agreed to give rival links greater visibility, using a dedicated shaded box that can't be switched off. This sits next to Google's own results from specialised services and will be used across mobile and any future versions of Google search that uses the specialised search function. But, crucially, Google was successful in protecting its secret algorithm from oversight by regulators. The reaction from other interested parties was not positive. According to FairSearch.org, an advocacy group sponsored by companies such as Microsoft and Oracle, the deal is "worse than nothing". It argues that these measures will not be sufficient to challenge Google's dominance, citing its own study showing that proposals put to the Commission along the way to this agreement only served to drive up traffic to its own sites.

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