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EU Asks Google About Anti-competitve Allegations

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."

  • maigo
    Don't be evil Google, don't be evil
    Reply
  • JasonAkkerman
    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.
    Reply
  • outlw6669
    Damn it EU :pfff:
    Reply
  • the_krasno
    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)
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    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.
    Reply
  • "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.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    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!
    Reply
  • schmich
    Yes I'm sorry the EU is more pro-consumer than the US.
    Reply
  • jdubsbooth
    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?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply