Google offers to display rival sites via auction: sources

BRUSSELS: Alphabet unit Google has offered to display rival shopping comparison sites via an auction in order to comply with an EU antitrust order to stop favouring its own shopping service, four people familiar with the matter said. 

The proposal, which resembles a failed offer made to the European Commission three years ago to settle the case, would allow competitors to bid for any spot in its shopping section known as Product Listing Ads, the people said. 

Under the previous proposal aimed at settling the long-running EU antitrust investigation, the world’s most popular internet search engine had reserved the first two places for its own ads. 

The new proposal, submitted to the European Commission on Aug 29 following a record €2.4bil (RM12.02bil) fine, would also see Google set a floor price with its own bids minus operating costs. 

The offer does not address the issues set out by EU competition regulators, the people said. The Commission had ordered Google to treat rivals and its own service equally. 

“This is worse than the commitments,” one of the people said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. 

The Commission was not immediately available for comment. Google did not respond to a request for comment. 

Google has until Sept 28 to stop its anti-competitive practices or its parent company Alphabet could be fined up to 5% of its average daily worldwide turnover. — Reuters