Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The European Commission (EC) announced today that it is initiating an investigation into the search engine company, Google, regarding allegations that Google abused its dominant position in online searches in violation of European competition (antitrust) laws. Smaller web businesses in France, Germany and the United Kingdom have complained that Google downgraded their websites in search results to weaken competitor advertising. Google controls 80% of the online search market in Europe (as compared to 66% in the United States), according to a research firm, comScore. The EC has notified its U.S. counterpart with respect to antitrust matters, the U.S. Justice Department (US DOJ), of the investigation. The US DOJ also has been examining Google for possible antitrust violations, but has not initiated any formal proceedings as yet. The opening of the EC investigation allows the EC to gather information from companies that do business with Google as well as its competitors to better assess whether any violations have taken place.