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Google in for an Antitrust investigation

We built Google for users, not Web sites, and the nature of ranking is that some Web sites will be unhappy with where they rank — says Google

Google Inc., a multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies, are getting ready to stand against the actions of recently opened formal antitrust investigation in Brussels (Europe) that accused the company of abusing its dominance in online search, exposing the company’s zealously guarded technology to unwelcome scrutiny.

It was mainly several medium-size web sources: Foundem, a British price comparison service; Ciao, a price comparison service in Germany owned by Microsoft; and eJustice, a French legal search tool — who complained Google had downgraded their sites in its search results or even abused its dominance in reference with its own Web services. (Note: according to comScore, 80 percent of the online search market in Europe belongs to Google, whereas its 66 persent in USA.) This is not the first USA companies had to deal with European regulators. However, its for Google. And, looking back to Microsoft and Intel experience, Google does not want to be involved in any kind of formal investigations in Brussels.

It is now up-to investigation commission to examine whether Google lowered the “quality score” of competing search services, making it more expensive for them to buy sponsored links and whether Google imposed exclusivity obligations on Internet companies that use Google’s advertising systems, preventing them from placing ads from Google rivals on their Web sites.

In return, Google explains the reason for possible site downgrades is that last ones almost duplicate the content from other sites, making the less informative and attractive to end-readers. Google adds:

We built Google for users, not Web sites, and the nature of ranking is that some Web sites will be unhappy with where they rank

In addition, Google says they are not the TOP search engine, meaning there are fast developing other companies like Facebook and Twitter which are similar to search system providing tons of links to other Web sites

On the other hand, European officials find these complaints insufficient in order to take immediate action against Google. That is why formal investigation want to find more companies/business groups that corporate with Google to provide some details to the same or maybe other problems which were caused by The Search Giant. As Jacques Lafitte,who represents eJustice, said

Responses by other companies to the questionnaires could enlarge the scope of the investigation.

Almost any company that currently has a large exposure to the Internet has, one way or the other, a serious problem with Google.

In case Google is found in violation of European competition law it will have to pay a fine of 10% of its annual revenue which is more than $23 billion according to last year figures. To compare, Microsoft already paid $2.4 billion over the past decade during Brussel’s investigation concerning Windows operation system, while Intel got $1.45 billion fine for abusing its dominance in the computer chip market.

Source: The New York Times

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