“Some labels would be likely to be ineffective or even affirmatively harmful,” warned Ben Edelman, an associate professor at Harvard University who has been a long-time critic of Google’s practices. Labelling a result as a “Google result” would suggest “that a given link is better or more official than the others”.
Another Google adversary, who declined to be named, complained: “This plays straight into Google’s hands. This is exactly where they were already headed (emphasis added - ed.), reducing the number of ‘natural’ search results and revving up their own results – advertising, effectively.”
Opposition to the proposed settlement is set to harden in the coming weeks as the commission subjects it to a “market test” that would allow rivals to present their views. Mr Wood said the process was approaching the stage where the legal rights of the third parties “crystallise”.
In the next phase, Google’s rivals will also have access to a version of the commission’s preliminary findings from its probe, giving them more ammunition as they push the regulators for reasons why issues raised in their formal complaints were rejected. “We are very, very far from the end of how this is going to turn out,” said Mr Wood.