Google says it is facing questions from the European Commission because of concerns that it is unfairly discriminating against rival search engines. But the Commission has denied that it has launched an antitrust probe into the activities of Google.
Julia Holtz, Google’s senior competition counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said today that it had been notified that the Commission was investigating complaints submitted by three rival search-engine companies.
The rivals allege that Google discriminates against them in its search algorithms, making them harder to find on the internet and so less attractive to advertisers. Google accounts for around 90% of the EU search market.
The complainants are Foundem, a UK price comparison site, ejustice.fr, a French legal search engine, and Microsoft, which lodged the complaint through its subsidiary Ciao from Bing, a search-engine for online shopping. Ciao has also complained to Germany’s competition authority about Google’s practices.
“Though each case raises slightly different issues, the question they ultimately pose is whether Google is doing anything to choke off competition or hurt our users and partners. This is not the case,” Holtz said in a blog post.
“We are also the first to admit that our search is not perfect, but it’s a very hard computer science problem to crack,” she said.
The Commission confirmed this morning that it had received the three complaints cited by Google, but said that it “has not opened a formal investigation for the time being”.
“As is usual when the Commission receives complaints, it informed Google earlier this month and asked the company to comment on the allegations,” the Commission said. It said that no further information could be given at this stage.
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