On 30 June 2010, the French Competition Authority (the "Authority") stated that Google had implemented the content policy of its online advertising service, AdWords, in a way which lacked objectivity and transparency and resulted in discriminatory treatment (see Community Week issue 478 ).

The Authority said that Google's behaviour was seriously and immediately prejudicial to all advertisers, including Navx, the company that had submitted the complaint, which markets online databases for GPS navigation devices.  The Authority thus ordered the implementation of several interim reliefs.

Further to the Authority's decision Google proposed four commitments, all of which relate to clarifications or changes to the AdWords page concerning devices relating to the detection of speed cameras and radars performing functions relating to speed traps (the "Devices").  On 21 July 2010, the Authority published the commitments and launched a market test.

Google suggested implementing the following four commitments:

  • to clarify, on the particular AdWords page relating to the Devices, whether its policy for Devices also applies to speed camera alarms and to databases that indicate the location of speed cameras;
  • to clarify, on the particular AdWords page relating to the Devices, whether the bans enacted by this policy apply only to the contents of the advertisements or to the websites of the advertisers as well;
  • to publish the changes to the AdWords policies concerning the Devices in France on a new "log history page" on the AdWords blog; and
  • to clarify, on the AdWords page relating to the Devices, that the breach of this policy can lead to the refusal of the submitted advertisements, the suspension of an advertiser's AdWords account and/or the advertiser being prohibited from creating new AdWords accounts.

These commitments are open to consultation until 13 September 2010.

Notably, although Google announced that the aim of its commitments was to clarify its policy towards all advertisers publishing advertisements on AdWords in France, the proposed modifications apply only to the page concerning the AdWords policy on the Devices

To view Community Week, Issue 481; 23rd July 2010 in full, Click here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.