Google Agrees to Change Ad Policy to Settle Case

PARIS — Google has pledged to overhaul its rules and procedures for blocking certain advertisers from buying “sponsored links” on its search engine as part of a settlement with French authorities announced Thursday.

As part of the deal with French Competition Authority, Google agreed to adopt conditions, including a three-month notification period, when it rejects some ads from appearing next to its search results in France.

The specific conditions apply only in France, and concern only ads for tools aimed at helping drivers avoid speed traps; the settlement stems from a complaint by a company called NavX, which provides online maps pinpointing the location of speed cameras on French roads.

But, under the settlement, Google also agreed to apply “the principle of improvements and clarifications made in implementing these commitments” in every country in which it operates AdWords, its keyword advertising system.

“This is a monumental event, because the French competition authority got Google to modify its contractual rules on a worldwide basis,” said Ron Soffer, a lawyer for NavX. “So if you are in the shoe business in California and Google suddenly decides it doesn’t like shoes, this settlement will affect you.”

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