In May, the European Commission said it was concerned that Google was favoring its own services in search, copying material from websites of competitors without permission, shutting out advertising competition and placing restrictions on the portability of online search advertising campaigns from its platform, AdWords, to the platforms of competitors. Commissioner Almunia told the company to offer changes or face a formal statement of objections with the risk of fines in the billions of dollars. In Europe antitrust penalties can be imposed before a court proceeding.
Besides the the European antitrust investigation, the Internet giant faces antitrust investigations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and several states. Antitrust officials in Korea, India and Brazil are also looking into Google's business practices. A European deal could well serve as a blueprint for settlements with other authorities.