EU probe seeks public comment on Google search remedies

The European Commission invited public comments Thursday on remedies submitted by US Internet giant Google to resolve EU concerns over its dominant position in the online search and advertising market.

The Commission, the EU's executive arm, said it would take the comments into account in its own judgement of Google's proposals and could make them binding on the company.

In a statement the Commission detailed four concerns -- firstly that Google's search results favoured links to its own specialised services, such as surveys of restaurants of hotels.

Google was using "without consent" original content from third party websites and obliging such sites to "obtain all or most of their online search advertisements" from the company.

Finally, Google was placing "contractual restrictions on the transferability of online search advertising campaigns," it said.

Combined, "these practices could harm consumers by reducing choice and stifling innovation in the fields of specialised search services and online search advertising," the Commission said.

To remedy these concerns, Google had proposed for a period of five year to highlight the links to its own other services so customers would be fully aware of them, it said.

Google would also offer "all websites the option to opt-out from the use of all their content in Google's specialised search services."

Crucially, it would provide newspaper publishers with a mechanism to control the "display of their content in Google News," the Commission said

At the same time, the company committed to "no longer include in its agreements with publishers any written or unwritten obligations that would require them to source online search advertisements exclusively from Google."

It would also "no longer impose obligations that would prevent advertisers from managing search advertising campaigns across competing advertising platforms."