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The EU will probe whether Google was "evil" in the search market. The EU is investigating nine reports of abuse against Google.  (Source: Google Images)
Investigation of internet and mobile device giant expands to nine complaints

According to a Reuters report citing two unnamed sources, the European Union's probe into possible antitrust violations by Google Inc. (GOOG) has greatly expanded.  Google, who recently set aside $500M USD to deal with antitrust settlements, is accused of various wrongdoings in nine different complaints.  The EU had only received four complaints, previously.

A source comments, "The Commission has nine formal complaints now. The new complaints come from small companies."

But while the EU may be probing Google to see if it's been naughty, Simon Holmes, the chief of SJ Berwin, a lawyer at EU and competition law firm, says that the new complaints don't necessarily mean game over for Google.  He remarks, "Google's strong position means there are lots of interests involved. But there is nothing wrong per se in having a strong position. The mere proliferation of complaints doesn't increase the likelihood of infringements. It means there are issues certain parties want to be investigated."

The first three complaints were filed by small web content providers who accused Google of demoting their sites in its search results, to push users to its own competitive offerings.  Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), who was previously slammed by the EU with a then-record $1.4B USD fine for its own alleged antitrust violations, filed its first ever complaint with EU regulators, claiming Google was blocking internet search competition.

EU regulators can fine a company up to 10 percent of its global revenue.  Thus far the biggest fines have come against Microsoft and, more recently, Intel Corp. (INTC), who was fined $1.45B USD in 2009.

In the U.S. Google faces a pending U.S. Federal Trade Commission probe and a Sept. 21 U.S. Senate hearing scrutinizing its dominant position.  These various actions add insult to the recent injury at the hands of Apple, Inc. (AAPL), who is suing [1][2][3][4][5] Google's top hardware partners internationally in a bid to stifle its Android operating system.  Microsoft, who's battling for EU action against Google, is also applying legal pressure [1][2] to get its own cut of Android revenue.

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By silverblue on 8/4/2011 3:47:32 AM , Rating: 2
Fining Microsoft for providing IE on its own Operating System would be like fining McDonald's for providing straws with their drinks.

Not quite the same thing. Most end user machines run a copy of Windows, and by extension, have a copy of IE. Microsoft, therefore, is using its dominant position in the OS market to give you a pre-packaged browser without offering you any alternative. Typically, the browser is your gateway to the internet.

Nobody's forcing people to eat at McDonald's, and you don't need to use a straw to have a drink when you're in there as you have an alternative; straight drinking from the cup. I'm just not sure how this analogy fits.

By trooper11 on 8/4/2011 11:28:40 AM , Rating: 3
The problem I always had with the MS stuff was that MS wasnt banning other browsers and as far I could tell, they didnt do anything to make it difficult to find them.

This was a case of multiple competitors lashing out at MS simply becuase they threw in a browser with thier OS. I was never convinced that MS was doing anything improper by bundling it that way. Anyone who cared enough about thier web browsing could find and install an alternative. It shouldnt be MS' job to advertise or manage 3rd party alternatives, but thats exactly what the EU forced them to do.

All the while we have OSX bundled with Safari and Google Chrome bundled with Chrome, free to ignore the the same rules impose on MS. I get the need to keep companies from taking illegal steps to keep competition out, but I just didnt see that happening here. competition was already there in the browser world, and it was florishing (firefox was anyway)

So yeah, there should be oversight, but sometimes it feels like they have swung too far the other way and instead of trying to keep a 'level playing field', they end up with one that favors one or several groups over another.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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