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EU Asks Google About Anti-competitve Allegations

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 23 comments

The EU has received complaints from U.S. search giant, Google, and could launch an anti-trust investigation into the company.

Google today revealed that it has been contacted by the European Commission which says it has received three complaints about Google, one each from Foundem, a UK price comparison site, ejustice.fr, a French legal search engine, and Microsoft's Ciao! from Bing.

Google's Senior Competition Counsel, Julia Holtz today blogged about the complaints and pointing out that that Foundem is a member of an organisation called ICOMP which is funded partly by Microsoft. Foundem claims argues that Google's algorithms demote their site in our results because they are a vertical search engine and so a direct competitor to Google. Holtz says ejustice.fr's complaint "seems to echo these concerns."

Regarding Ciao!, Google says they were a long-time AdSense partner. In fact, according to Holtz, Google and Ciao! enjoyed a good relationship until the company was acquired by Microsoft in 2008.  "We started receiving complaints about our standard terms and conditions. They initially took their case to the German competition authority, but it now has been transferred to Brussels," said Holtz.

Holtz maintains that Google has done nothing wrong and says, "Our search is not perfect, but it's a very hard computer science problem to crack."

At the time of writing, the EU had yet to announce any formal investigation.

"The commission has not opened a formal investigation for the time being," the EU said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg. "As is usual when the commission receives complaints, it informed Google earlier this month and asked the company to comment on the allegations."

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  • 14 Hide
    back_by_demand , February 24, 2010 8:11 PM
    Here we go again with this EU bullshit.

    I give it 12 months and the Google homepage will have options for 5 other search engines asking if you want to use them instead. Well, the answer is no if I wanted to use Bing or Alta Vista I would have gone to their homepage instead.
  • 12 Hide
    the_krasno , February 24, 2010 8:05 PM
    This smells like bullshit. The EU loves making money on fines on big companies while selectively ignoring others (for example, Apple wasn't asked to change it's default web browser but Microsoft was. I'm not defending this companies, I'm attacking EU's evident lack of shame)
Other Comments
  • -6 Hide
    JasonAkkerman , February 24, 2010 7:56 PM
    maigoDon't be evil Google, don't be evil


    I hate to burst your bubble, but when it comes to making money "You do what you have to."

    Most, if not all, companies are guilty of some kind of underhanded ploys all in the name of the almighty dollar.
  • 5 Hide
    outlw6669 , February 24, 2010 7:58 PM
    Damn it EU :pfff: 
  • 12 Hide
    the_krasno , February 24, 2010 8:05 PM
    This smells like bullshit. The EU loves making money on fines on big companies while selectively ignoring others (for example, Apple wasn't asked to change it's default web browser but Microsoft was. I'm not defending this companies, I'm attacking EU's evident lack of shame)
  • 14 Hide
    back_by_demand , February 24, 2010 8:11 PM
    Here we go again with this EU bullshit.

    I give it 12 months and the Google homepage will have options for 5 other search engines asking if you want to use them instead. Well, the answer is no if I wanted to use Bing or Alta Vista I would have gone to their homepage instead.
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , February 24, 2010 8:26 PM
    "Apple wasn't asked to change it's default web browser but Microsoft was."

    It's a good point, though while I agree that the enforced browser ballot screen is ridiculous it's worth mentioning that Apple is a far less significant player (and thus, issue) outside of the US.

    As far at this news piece goes I'm willing to believe it's a Microsoft-staged coup until the opposite has been proven. They have after all been turning up the heat with Bing and seems to have realized that Google is a main competitor in many every aspects of their business.
  • 6 Hide
    Yuka , February 24, 2010 8:38 PM
    The more news like that come out, the more I think companies these days use this business model:

    Profit = 10% R&D work + 40% Marketing work + 50% Lawyers work.

    Give us a break!

    Cheers! xD!
  • -6 Hide
    schmich , February 24, 2010 8:42 PM
    Yes I'm sorry the EU is more pro-consumer than the US.
  • 6 Hide
    jdubsbooth , February 24, 2010 8:48 PM
    schmichYes I'm sorry the EU is more pro-consumer than the US.

    If the EU is truly pro-consumer then why are they so inconsistent in their attacks? Why are only Microsoft's customers given a browser ballot, for example?
  • 9 Hide
    Anonymous , February 24, 2010 9:15 PM
    Because Apple is a minor player in the EU (far less than the 10% it supposedly has in the US). When their market share rises they might come under scrutiny.

    I'm more interested about the EU looking into iTunes. The shop, the forced bundling with other software, the locking out of other players, etc. There are a bunch of issues right there that consumers would like to be investigated IMHO. Much more than a browser ballot in an OS that nobody uses.
  • 0 Hide
    babybeluga , February 24, 2010 9:25 PM
    EU = European Usurpers?
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , February 24, 2010 9:33 PM
    You know, there is such a thing a freedom of choice. I don't see what all the fuss is about.
  • 0 Hide
    Regulas , February 24, 2010 9:43 PM
    More EU crap with Microbloat edging them on, imagine that.
  • -3 Hide
    bydesign , February 24, 2010 9:59 PM
    About damn time. Google's business model is shady at best. They always settle because the day they go to trial, they no know if they loose it will be game over. Is this case BS, I don't know, but Google deserve whatever happens 1000 fold.
  • 6 Hide
    _Cubase_ , February 25, 2010 12:03 AM
    In other news: the EU is suing the pants off more companies, and then suing their employees for indecent exposure, and then suing said employees for wanting to put their own pants back on instead of choosing someone elses.
  • 6 Hide
    False_Dmitry_II , February 25, 2010 12:54 AM
    Apple being minor is an irrelevant point. That just means that they are given free license to shove whatever down its users throats until it makes the bigtime? That's stupid.
  • 0 Hide
    jsc , February 25, 2010 3:41 AM
    First Intel. Then Microsoft. Now Google.

    Anyone else see a pattern here?
  • 2 Hide
    anamaniac , February 25, 2010 4:25 AM
    I've already lost respect for the EU a while ago.

    While Google, Intel, Microsoft etc. are shady, they do properly invest in R&D and it does benefit the customer.

    Screw you EU, I like my Win7, i7 and Google.com
  • 1 Hide
    jenesuispasbavard , February 25, 2010 1:31 PM
    "The EU has received complaints from U.S. search giant, Google, and could launch an anti-trust investigation into the company."

    So, Google filed a complaint against itself? That's a new one, Tom's.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2010 1:44 PM
    I am sorry, I fail to see where the EU is sueing Google at this point.
    They received complaints from 3 sides, all of 3 linked with Microsoft ?
    All the EU did was take note of those complaints, inform Google and asked if they could comment on it.
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