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Google is under investigation by Europe's governing body about possible antitrust violations, including abusive acts against companies like Foundem.
Europe continues to set a strict standard of antitrust compliance

The last time Microsoft was investigated by the European Union it was fined $1.4B USD.  When Intel was investigated by the EU it was fined $1.45B USD.  Now the EU's European Commission, which monitors the markets in member states for abuse, has launched a formal investigation into another American tech superpower -- Google. 

In a formal statement an EC official is quoted as saying, "The (European) Commission will investigate whether Google has abused a dominant market position in online search by allegedly lowering the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services."

The investigation comes after claims that Google added special code to its search engine to demote competitors British price comparison site Foundem and French legal search engine  Another complaint was also filed by Ciao, a Bing-powered price-comparison site from Microsoft.  Ciao claimed that Google's standard terms and conditions were abusive.

Those complaints led to a probe, which in turn led to the current investigation.

In addition to investigating these claims, the EC says it will look into whether Google pressured software and hardware partners to dump competitors' search engines.  It will also examine whether Google is forcing websites not to air ads from its competitors, if they want to use Google's ad services.  It also is going to poking around in Google's advertising data to see if the format is too non-portable, making it hard to transfer advertising info to competitors.

From an American perspective some of these charges seem a bit out there, while others seem to make sense.  Even companies in a dominant position shouldn't be forced to advertise for their competitors, so concerns about Google excluded them from page results seem tenuous.  Likewise, there's no real reason Google should have to design its ad data in such a way it can be given to others -- that just doesn't make sense.

However, the remainder of the complaints are more troublesome.  If Google truly did coerce partners into dumping Bing and other competitors, or if it pressured advertisers into exclusivity that would seemingly mark a clear abuse of its dominant position.

So is Google an abusive monopoly, or an innocent victim of an overzealous regulatory system?  That remains to be seen, but if past EU investigations are any indication, formal charges, and fines will soon follow.

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RE: Here we go again with EU doing this for money
By wookie1 on 11/30/2010 5:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
Thank god for these benevolent beauracracies to protect us from the evils of business. The beauracracies have only the consumer's interests in mind, not transferring cash or competitive advantage from a non-favored company to a favored company. There's no way that customers could figure out their best interests on their own. We need many more non-elected beauracracues to direct our daily activities for the common good.

"Also the fact the EU is investigating something is by far not the same as a conviction. Even companies are considered innocent until proven otherwise and surely it's a good thing to make sure Google is not abusing it's position. "

Are you sure? The money collected from the judgement goes into the bank account of the court that renders the judgement. All incentives are aligned to prefer a guilty verdict. There is no oversight or accountability for this court either. I don't care if the fines are $1, let's not dismiss this racket out-of-hand.

By karielash on 12/1/2010 4:51:45 AM , Rating: 1

Yeah, unlike the US system where your 'innocent' business partners simply bribe a few senators and screw everyone else.

By BZDTemp on 12/1/2010 6:22:00 AM , Rating: 1
I'm guessing the only system you think would be okay is anarchy!

The EU court is not much different than a high level US court and the people working there are not doing it for commission. You may not trust civil servants or as you call them "non-elected beauracracues" but fact is they are employed by a democratic system so I challenge you to come up with a better system.

And as for customers being able to figure out what is in their best interest please stop being naive. If a company gets a controlling share of a market said company is able to use that control in all sorts of ways that is not good. And customers will have a very hard time doing anything about it if they are even aware they are being taken advantage of. Just look at the sub-prime scandal - by your logic people should have been able to realize the loans would be a bad thing and act accordingly.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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