Settlement Critics Say Google Censors Content

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Alvin Bryan

Alvin Bryan is a freelance writer and online privacy enthusiast enthusiast currently contributing quality tips and troubleshooting on personal VPN services, and online privacy and security news. You can also find him on Google +.

Google Censors Content EUGoogle is again working on an antitrust probe settlement with the European Union, but the proposal is facing opposition. European publishers have claimed that Google censors content by favoring services connected with the company. Some US tech companies are also vehemently against the settlement. Now News Corp has joined in, calling them a “platform for piracy.”

The Google Settlement Debate

The settlement goes back four years to the original antitrust probe. The company has been revising its offer, but is again facing staunch resistance from Us and European fronts. Several publishing houses based in Europe have voiced their opposition to a settlement. Axel Springer SE is one of the opponents that rejects settlement because they believe that Google censors content. This publisher is responsible for Bild, Germany’s highest-circulation newspaper. These European critics were joined by US companies like Expedia and Microsoft. They, too forcefully disagree because it hurts competition when Google censors content.

Google Censors Content SettlementNews Corp is a noteworthy addition to the opposing team. News Corp is a US company, but has large interests in Europe. The corporation is owner of Dow Jones & Co., which publishes The Wall Street Journal and its European counterpart the Journal. It also runs Dow Jones Newswires, the Times of London, and the Sun.

Google Censors Content, Violates Privacy and Copyright

Earlier this month, News Corp CEO Robert Thompson said that since Google censors content, the company is not playing fair. His September 8 letter to EU antitrust chief JoaquĆ­n Almunia expressed that Google was leading users of its search engine to its affiliates. He in so many words accused Google of regularly and methodically manipulating search results for commercial benefit. A representative denied Thompson’s claims, saying Thomson’s claims that Google censors content are unfounded. He referred to a blog post by Eric Schmidt that states how the company does not give preferential exposure to its own services or cut out the competition.

Update: Google has responded to criticism, saying that they are not cornering the web nor do they foster piracy.

European entities including News Corp have also accused Google of intellectual property and data privacy violations. The EU has very strict laws on both, but data privacy concerns have been heightened lately due to US spying activities.

Google Changes Still Not Good Enough

Google Censors ContentGoogle is still working on the commitments that Almunia asked be revised in January. These commitments relate to the visibility of competing services on the search engine. Google made some changes in February to comply with EU demands for European web searches. The company displayed content differently and Almunia said they were almost done. But then EU politicians and media groups began to oppose the settlement, and US companies joined in. They believe that Google’s proposal is not good enough to address their concerns.

Google may be served with a formal complaint from the EU. Google and EU regulators must reach an accord if this statement of objections is to be set aside. Google will be allowed to submit their revised settlement proposal for review. Current EU antitrust chief Almunia now says that there is not enough time to close the deal. He is due to step down at the end of October, and the decision will then rest with Margrethe Vestager. Vestager will be free to take up the case, drop it, or charge Google formally. If Google is charged, the company could be fined up to 60 billion US dollars, which is 10% of its annual earnings.

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