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Google offers to settle EU antitrust claims

Google [corporate website; JURIST news archive] on Monday offered to settle antitrust claims by the European Competition Commission (ECC) [official website]. The company's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt [Forbes profile], sent a letter [NYT report] to ECC Joaquin Almunia [official website] addressing four areas of concerns the ECC pointed out in May, including that the company unfairly abused its Internet search dominance in order to promote its own businesses at the expense of other competitors by displaying more of its own products rather than a variety of other non-Google services. Google's offer to settle was made to avoid significant fines which could amount up to 10 percent of the company's annual revenue. The company may also escape judgments that would require it to change its way of doing business, significantly limiting its presence in the European market.

Google has faced numerous lawsuits related to its products and services. In June the company reached a settlement [JURIST report] with a group of French authors to end a lawsuit challenging its book-scanning initiative [Google Books search website], which displayed scanned images of select pages of books. A few days earlier, the Supreme Court of Switzerland [official website, in German] ruled [JURIST report] partially for Google in a case over privacy violations through its Street View service, holding that the company is not compelled to completely blur all faces and license plates but should do so manually if someone files a complaint. In March of last year, a Berlin high court ruled [JURIST report] for Google holding that the company's controversial service is legal in Germany. On the other side, the French National Commission of Information Technology and Liberty (CNIL) [official website, in French] fined [JURIST report] Google 100,000 euros (USD $141,300) for violating the country's data privacy laws.

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