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Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Group Asks European Commission to Modify Google's Settlement Plan

The proposed settlement in Europe's antitrust investigation of Google that establishes a monitor for five years to ensure that the Internet giant keeps its promises under the deal, does not obligate Google to do anything in response to a request from the "Monitoring Trustee," Consumer Watchdog said today.

In a letter to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, the U.S. public interest group's Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson wrote:

"Much has been made of the idea that Google will be under the supervision of the monitor for five years to ensure the company fulfills the Commitments. However, to our amazement the Commitments do not actually obligate Google to do anything in response to a request from the Monitoring Trustee. Shockingly, the Commitments leave the decision about whether to comply entirely up to Google."

Consumer Watchdog's letter quoted paragraph 67 of the Commitments that were made public by Google. The paragraph reads:

"VI.5 Duties and Obligations of Google
67. Google may comply with any specific request made by the Monitoring Trustee in its sole discretion. The Commission reserves the right to exercise its powers of investigation set out in Section V of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 should Google decline any request made by the Monitoring Trustee." ? Commitments in Case Comp/-3/39.740, Jan. 31, 2014, Page 19.

"In other words Google may choose to ignore any request and the Commission may launch an investigation. But, that is exactly what the Commission has been doing for the past three years - investigating Google," wrote Simpson. "This provision hardly seems a likely means to settle the antitrust case; rather it portends further stalling and foot-dragging on the part of the Internet giant."

Google's third proposed Commitments are avaialable here.

EU's antitrust regulator has asked the world's most popular search engine for more measures to address concerns it was blocking competitors, including Microsoft, in search results.

Late last year, Joaquin Almunia, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Competition Policy, unveiled that Google has improved the commitments it has offered and that negotiations continue.

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