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Google publishes full text of EU antitrust agreement to quiet critics

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Justus Lipsius Building Council of the European Union Brussels
Justus Lipsius Building Council of the European Union Brussels

As an apparent act of good faith, Google today published the details of its antitrust settlement bid with the European Union. The release comes after the EU declined to conduct a full "market test" by circulating Google's commitments to the interested parties in the case, and may serve to ease fears from advocacy groups that the search giant is aiming to take advantage of its competitors.

Lobby groups called the settlement a massive failure

Google reached a tentative agreement with European regulators last week, allowing that it would display search results from three of its competitors along with its own promoted results. The proposal was well-received by EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who said, "I believe that the new proposal obtained from Google after long and difficult talks can now address the commission's concerns." However, the decision to not conduct a full market test angered lobby groups Fairsearch and ICOMP, with the latter calling a settlement without a third-party review "a massive failure."

Google responded by releasing the full-text of its 93-page proposal, outlining how it ranks search results and how it will display results from its rivals. The proposal also states that Google will also reporting to one or more Monitoring Trustees, who will relay the company's compliance with the proposed agreement to the commission.

All told, the move is good PR on Google's part. While Almunia already stated that the commission would not likely change its mind about making Google's proposal legally binding, making the details available to third parties goes a long way for fostering good will with its competitors.