India’s competition regulator fines Google $21.1 million for ‘search bias’ in travel results

India’s Competition Commission (CCI) today fined Google $1.36 billion rupees (roughly $21.1 million) for “abuse of its dominant position” in search. The specific finding made by CCI (in a 4 to 2 decision) surrounded Google’s treatment of flight search results.
CCI said that Google “allocated disproportionate real estate” to the box of sponsored flight results at the top of the page, which the Committee said disadvantaged “verticals trying to gain market access”:

CCI found prominent display of Commercial Flight Unit by Google on Search Engine Result Page (SERP) with link to Google’s specialised search options/ services (Flight) in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act. CCI noted in its order that Google through its search design has not only placed its commercial flight unit at a prominent position on SERP, it has also allocated disproportionate real estate thereof to such units to the disadvantage of verticals trying to gain market access. Besides, it was also found

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US court orders Google not to comply with Canadian court’s order delisting search results

A federal court in California has blocked implementation of a Canadian Supreme Court ruling that ordered Google to delist websites associated with a company called Datalink from Google’s global index. The Canadian decision (Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions) was an example of a court in one country asserting authority over global activity outside its jurisdiction.
Because Google exhausted its appeals in Canada, the company filed an action in the US District Court in Northern California, asserting that the Canadian decision violates US law. The US federal court agreed with Google and issued a preliminary injunction — effectively overruling the Canadian Supreme Court:
Congress recognized that free speech on the internet would be severely restricted if websites were to face tort liability for hosting user-generated content . . . It responded by enacting Section 230 [of the Communications Decency Act], which grants broad immunity to online intermediaries . . .
The Canadian order would eliminate Section 230 immunity for service providers that link to third-party websites.

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Google searches now correspond to user location instead of domain

Google announced today that it is changing the way it labels country services on the mobile web, Google app for iOS and desktop Search and Maps.
According to Google, one in five searches is now location-related. To make search results more relevant, Google says the country of service will no longer be indicated by the country code top level domain name (ccTLD) such as “google.co.uk” for the UK or “google.com.br” for Brazil, but instead will default to the country where the user is performing the search.
From the Google Search Blog:
So if you live in Australia, you’ll automatically receive the country service for Australia, but when you travel to New Zealand, your results will switch automatically to the country service for New Zealand. Upon return to Australia, you will seamlessly revert back to the Australian country service.

Google says that typing the relevant ccTLD into a browser will no longer return various country services. Instead, users must go into their settings

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Report: Google to appeal $2.7 billion EU fine

According to The Telegraph, Google is planning to file an appeal against the roughly $2.7 billion (€2.4 billion) antitrust fine imposed by the European Commission in June for abuse of market position in shopping search. The fine was the largest in EU history; the previous record fine was $1.3 billion against Intel.
Last week, Intel won a rare partial victory against EU antitrust regulators when the European Court of Justice instructed a lower court to re-examine its decision and take a closer look at the underlying facts and market impact of Intel’s behavior.
It’s not clear whether last week’s decision impacted Google’s thinking on whether or not to appeal (Google’s decision was likely made before last week). Though it will likely be in process for several years, an appeal makes sense because the company faces potential similar fines and demands for change around other types of “vertical search” results such as maps/local, travel and other categories.
Google is required to submit proposals

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Canada’s Supreme Court orders Google to de-index site globally, opening door to censorship

The Canadian Supreme Court has ordered Google to de-index an e-commerce site globally. This sets a disastrous precedent that opens the door for other governments (and private parties) across the globe to try to control or censor Google’s search results.
The case was Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions. The plaintiff, a small tech company in British Columbia, sued its former distributor, which was selling allegedly counterfeit versions of its products online. An initial injunction against the defendant failed to stop the behavior. The present case against Google went up on appeal, and the Supreme Court granted a worldwide injunction against Google:
In this case, the balance of convenience favoured granting an injunction. The Court of Appeal agreed that the court held jurisdiction over Google with respect to the injunction application. It also concluded that it was permissible to seek interim relief against a non-party. The power to grant injunctions is presumptively unlimited, and injunctions aimed at maintaining order need not be directed solely

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Google reports more than 40K government requests for user data during 2nd half of 2015

Google has released its latest transparency report update, reporting 40,677 requests for user data from governments around the world.
According to the latest numbers, there were over 5,000 more requests during the second half of 2015 compared to January through June of 2015, with 81,311 total users/accounts specified.
Requests for user data by reporting period

Of the more than 100 countries listed on the transparency report, the United States had the most government requests for user data and account information at 12,523, followed by Germany with 7,491 requests and France with 4,174 requests.
Google gave itself a pat on the back on its latest Google Public Policy blog post, noting it had led the charge for global transparency around government surveillance laws.
We helped create the Reform Government Surveillance coalition to encourage Congress and the executive branch to take steps to modernize US surveillance laws, further protect the privacy and data security rights of all users, including those outside the US and

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Report: EU responding to Google antitrust search-quality defense with new objections

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, regulators at the European Commission (EC) are preparing a “supplementary statement of objections” in the existing shopping search antitrust matter. The EC filed the original “statement of objections” (formal antitrust charges) regarding Google’s alleged abuse of market power in early 2015.
While the EC focused exclusively on shopping search in the original charges, it is widely expected that shopping is a kind of template for other potential “search bias” cases against Google. If the EC succeeds, nearly identical charges will likely follow in other vertical search areas such as local, maps and potentially travel.
The supplementary statement reportedly allows the EC to address arguments and claims made in Google’s formal response to the EC’s original statement of objections. In a blog post reflecting the arguments made to the EC, Google vigorously asserts that the evolution of its search results pages has been about improving quality and the user experience and is

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Report: 2 years in, 75 percent of Right to Be Forgotten asks denied by Google

It has been two years since the Court of Justice of the European Union established the “Right to be forgotten” (RTBF). Reputation VIP subsequently launched Forget.me as one way for consumers in Europe to submit RTBF requests to Bing and Google.
The company has periodically used consumer submissions through the site (130,000 URLs) to compile and publish aggregate data on RTBF trends. A new report looks at two years’ worth of cumulative data, on the nature, geographic location and success rates of RTBF requests.
The top three countries from which RTBF requests originate are the Germany, the UK and France. In fact more than half of all requests have come from Germany and the UK.

Google refuses roughly 70 percent to 75 percent of requests according to the data. The chart below reflects the most common categories or justifications for URL removal requests, on the left. On the right are the reasons that Google typically denies RTBF requests.
Google most frequently

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Streetmap Loses Anti-Competitive Lawsuit Against Google In UK

UK-based Streetmap sued Google in court last November under an “abuse of competition” theory. This was essentially the civil-suit version of the European Commission’s antitrust case against the company. The High Court of Justice in the UK has now ruled against Streetmap.
Streetmap had argued that the insertion of Google Maps at the top of search results (i.e., OneBox) in 2008 had deprived the company of traffic and revenue, effectively destroying it. However, the court disagreed.
According to The Guardian, the court said that the Maps OneBox was  “not reasonably likely appreciably to affect competition in the market for online maps.” Complicating the case is the fact that Streetmap offers a generally poor user experience that isn’t competitive with Google Maps.

Streetmap will apparently appeal the unfavorable decision. The Guardian quotes Streetmap spokesperson Kate Sutton on the ruling:
First, this decision is unfair for small businesses. The hands of small businesses are now tied behind our backs. The decision makes it

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Google To Remove Right-To-Be-Forgotten Links Worldwide, For Searchers In European Countries

Google plans to censor European “Right To Be Forgotten” links on sites worldwide, for those those searching from the specific European countries where particular requests were made. This would make it much harder for those in Europe to switch to non-European versions of Google and still find these links.
The Situation Now: Removals Only From European Editions
Under Europe’s Right To Be Forgotten, Europeans can request that search engines like Google remove links that they consider to violate their privacy or that are deemed harmful in some way and no longer relevant to the public interest. Those requesting removal have to specify both the links they want dropped and the specific search terms they want the links removed from.
If granted, Google will:

Drop the links only for the specific search terms requested. They continue to appear for other search terms.
Drop the links only for its European sites.
Continue to show the links for all searches in Google editions for non-European countries.

To understand more, here’s an example. Let’s say

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