Is Google getting closer to EU anti-competitive probe?

Comments from a top European Commission official have hinted Google could be getting closer to an official EU probe into anti-competitive behaviour.


A leading European competition official has hinted that Google could be getting close to an official Brussels enquiry into anti-competitive behaviour.

Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the European Commission responsible for competition policy, said that he is looking into "some allegations of anti-competitive conduct in relation to search".

"The work is at an early stage, but given the importance of search to a competitive online marketplace, I am looking at the allegations very carefully," he told delegates at a conference hosted by University College London.

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While Almunia did not mention Google's name, he talked of one search browser having 95 per cent market share in Europe clearly referring to the dominant force in the sphere.

"On the internet, information travels fast and users may be very reactive. If results on a search engine for instance are being manipulated, it may well make a difference on the market if consumers know about it," he said.

Almunia also stated that he wanted the same rules in the real world to apply to the virtual economy as well.

"I believe that the principles of competition must be maintained in the digital economy with the same intensity that they are imposed in the brick and mortar world," he added.

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In an emailed statement sent to IT PRO Google said it is working with the commission to answer questions and discuss how its algorithms work "to produce the most relevant and useful search results for users".

"We're very confident that our business operates in the interests of both users and partners, as well as within European competition law," the statement added.

Google has been the focus of much scrutiny recently, particularly over the Wi-Fi data scandal.

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