Category Archives: Antitrust

Le anticipazioni del FT sugli impegni di GOOGLE al commissario ALMUNIA

Come Osservatorio della Rete contestiamo che gli impegni di GOOGLE per una causa Antitrust europea appaiano prima su un giornale e poi (forse) sul sito della Commissione.

Non abbiamo intenzione di commentare le illazioni giornalistiche ancorchè autorevoli e provenienti da una testata molto accreditata che però non cita la fonte per ovvii motivi.

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The Google EU settlement: Full details
April13,201310:40am byAlexBarker
Google’s three year tussle with Brussels over its search business is almost over. Our report today outlines the
substance of its pre-charge settlement with the European Commission. Once formally adopted, it will allow Google to
avoid a fine, any admission of guilt and a lengthy legal battle. But the price is accepting legally binding restrictions on how it
can present its search results. Google has never yielded ground to a regulator on its prized core business before.
Given the space confines, we didn’t lay out all the details of the pact in the news piece. Some of it, as will become clear, is highly technical and not ideal weekend reading. For specialists we thought it would be useful to run through the full settlement taking each of the Commissions four concerns in turn:

THE SEARCH BUSINESS:
The concern: The Commission investigators provisionally concluded that Google was potentially diverting traffic to its own specialist, or vertical search services — like Google’s finance, news, shopping and weather sites — potentially to the detriment of consumers. Brussels alleged it 1) did not to inform users clearly when it was favouring its own in-houses services and 2) did not give proper visibility to rival search engines that may provide more relevant results.
The solution: As a principle Google promises to ensure its own in-house services are clearly labelled and demarcated from the general search results. Users should be “clearly aware” they are Google in- house services, not natural search results. This can be done through labelling, boxes and so-called “hover links”. When Google is making money from the in-house service, it also promises to carry visible links to rival search engines that may provide better or equally as relevant results.
The categories: The intrusiveness of the settlement varies according to whether Google makes money from the service. It is split into three groups:

1) In areas such as Google News or Weather, which do not directly generate revenue, only the labelling and separation requirements apply.

2) For its specialist restaurant search results — which links to a landing page that generates ad revenue for Google — clearer labelling and separation is needed. And Google must carry a minimum of three links to alternatives search engines — such as Yelp or Tripavisor. These alternative sites are selected through a process more similar to general search.
3) Paid for services such as Google shopping are treated differently. This is treated more like advertising space, because retailers pay to appear in the specialist search results. This must be labelled, separated from general search and include links. But the links are sold-off by auction, rather than generated by the search algorithm.
Mobile is covered by the settlement. But the terms are slightly amended to account for the space confines. So while links are provided, it is through a pop-up box.
The duration: The terms apply for three years. It covers all Google search pages accessed from the EU. It is a lengthy settlement document. But the principles are the important part. It does not dictate exactly how Google pages should look until 2018 but sets clear, legally-binding guidelines. Compliance is monitored by a trustee.

USE OF THIRD PARTY CONTENT
The concern: Some content providers — such as newspapers and restaurant review sites — complained that Google took material that was commercially valuable and penalised companies that wanted to opt-out of its specialist search services. This is generally referred to as scraping.
The solution: Google pledges to 1) let groups opt-out so its information does not appear in specialist services such as Google News or restaurant search 2) establish an HTML tool for sites to remove specific pieces of content (up to 10 per cent of a site) from Google specialist search 3) allow groups to opt out of specialist search without disappearing from general search results.
This issue was also addressed by the US Federal Trade Commission. The EU settlement goes further in that it is legally binding and includes the tool to allow parts of websites (such as restaurant opening times or reviews) to go dark.

DISTRIBUTION OF SEARCH ADVERTISING
The concern: The Commission was worried about provisions in contracts that effectively meant sites carrying Google search ads had to carry Google ads almost exclusively.
The solution: Google agrees to remove exclusivity provisions form all future contracts and any legacy advertising contracts that carry them. Google will also end its premium placement requirement, allowing sites to run a broader range of contextual ads.

PORTABILITY OF AD CAMPAIGNS
The concern: Brussels objected to restrictions that made it difficult for companies to move ad campaigns from Google to rivals such as Yahoo or Bing.
The solution: The provisions that cause the difficulty are dropped. This mirrors the settlement with the FTC.

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Altri problemi di Antitrust per GOOGLE sul mobile: indagate su ANDROID

Siamo alle solite. Con gli amici dell‘Osservatorio della Rete sono mesi che sollecitiamo azioni forti da parte del Commissario Europeo Almunia che arrivino allo scorporo forte del motore di ricerca dalle altre attività del colosso di Mountain View.

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I numeri parlano chiaro e non possono essere che interpretati in maniera preoccupante. Google ha una dominanza totale del segmento search. Si tratta del servizio che meglio consente a GOOGLE di profilare gli utenti.
Ancora una volta privacy e competition sono strettamente connessi e non si riesce a far passare il concetto che se non si risolve il problema a monte, non si risolveranno mai, MAI!, tutti gli altri problemi che GOOGLE crea a valle ai suoi competitor.

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Competitor che ovviamente si lamentano un giorno si e l’altro pure. Tutti i giorni arrivano sulle scrivanie dei decisori nazionali ed europei  motivi di doglianza tali da far rabbrividire anche chi non ha nulla da temere perchè non usa Internet.
Google sa pure qualcosa di chi Internet non lo usa perchè magari ci finisce dentro con le foto degli altri, con gli appuntamenti messi dentro il calendario del cellulare, con la rubrica telefonica catturata al volo da Google e dai servizi over the top.
Servizi che sfuggono continuamente ad ogni normativa nazionale territoriale a cominciare da quella relativa alle tasse.

Su GOOGLE il caso è macroscopico e non si capisce come mai ci si attardi a trovare una soluzione definitiva. Non servono test. Non servono altre lamentele. Non servono nemmeno gli impegni.

Servono tre cose ben precise:

1) una sanzione molto pesante commisurata al fatturato, tale da fungere da deterrente vero e da far recuperare denari alle Istituzioni coinvolte in queste problematiche sollevate dagli abusi di Google.

2) servirebbe urgentemente una riforma della normativa sulla privacy come proposta dalla Commissaria Reading.

3) urge anche una soluzione vera al problema della dominanza di Google che diventa in taluni casi un quasi-monopolio. Si scorporino le attività legate alla ricerca da ogni altro servizio offerto da Google.

Questa la ricetta: tre semplici ingredienti e finalmente potremmo dichiarare il problema risolto.
Ma se non si attuano subito queste misure il mercato intero, tutta la catena del valore, non solo alcuni competitor diretti ma l’intero comparto informatico, avranno da soffrire ancora e a lungo. E gli utenti, i cittadini, le aziende, le imprese e i consumatori continueranno a soffrire pure loro le tante distorsioni causate da questo colosso.

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