The European Commission has identified four antitrust "concerns" with Google's offerings and is demanding "voluntary" remedies if Google does not wish to defend itself in an adversarial proceeding that could lead to fines . First among these concerns:
First, in its general search results on the web, Google displays links to its own vertical search services. Vertical search services are specialised search engines which focus on specific topics, such as for example restaurants, news or products. Alongside its general search service, Google also operates several vertical search services of this kind in competition with other players. (Commission press release)
Google, obviously, has a right to offer this; its users, equally obviously, have a right to quit using Google if they don't like it. What isn't at all obvious is why anyone wouldn't like it -- unless, of course, that person's company were trying to use Google to compete with Google: to use its appearance in Google's search results to attract customers away from Google's products to its own competing products. And this use of Google against Google is just what the Commission seems to be defending -- at the cost of Google's right to pursue its own interest by serving its customers as well as it can.
In September, Google executive Eric Schmidt appeared before a U.S. Senate committee that had a similar concern, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried to pressure him to do more business in his state .