People are questioning Google's sketchy, secret EU antitrust deal

Google appears to have managed to avoid a costly fine in Europe where the Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia was investigating the company for antitrust practices related to its local Search business, after a third settlement offer was apparently accepted by the EU. However, due to the secrecy surrounding the event, several members of the European parliament have already cast their doubts over the deal.

Google’s secret backroom deal with the EU’s competition chief can only worsen the crisis of trust in the European institutions, one MEP tells us. This week the Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia said he would advise the Commission to reject complaints made about Google’s business practices, thus allowing the search giant to avoid a costly competition trial. The bulk of the complaints (although not all of them) deal with Google’s practice of inserting its own products and services high into its “organic” or “natural” search results, and demoting rivals.

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