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EU chief: "Google is diverting traffic" from rivals

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By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 11 Jan 2013 at 11:07

Google may have been cleared of manipulating search results to harm rivals in the US, but the company is facing censure from EU competition bosses.

The EU's competition chief, Joaquín Almunia, has said he believes the company is tweaking search results to promote its own services while demoting potential rivals down the rankings.

The comments come as the EU plods towards a conclusion to an extensive probe into complaints that the company was distorting the web landscape via its search results.

"We are still investigating, but my conviction is [Google] is diverting traffic," Almunia told the Financial Times.

"It is monetising this kind of business, the strong position it has in the general search market and this is not only a dominant position, I think – I fear – there is an abuse of this dominant position."

I think – I fear – there is an abuse of this dominant position

The comments relate to allegations from "vertical search" sites (also known as price comparison sites), such as Foundem, that its results were demoted by Google, accusations that sparked investigations on both side of the Atlantic.

UK court action

Meanwhile, that initial complainant has sought recompense through the UK courts, with Foundem suing Google for loss of earnings.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the company said in a lawsuit made public this week that it had been unfairly punished by Google because it offered a competing shopping comparison service.

The lawsuit asserts that Foundem lost traffic after being pushed down Google's search rankings.

Google has always said it doesn't demote rivals, and instead penalised Foundem and similar sites because they had limited original content.

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User comments

Anything that demotes these useless price comparison sites in search results gets a huge tick from me. It's probably a big reason why many people use Google, as opposed to other engines that might dredge up loads more of this rubbish.

"It is monetising this kind of business"
Last I heard, business was supposed to make money. I think the EU's Competition Chief needs some competition for his job.

By TheHonestTruth on 11 Jan 2013

Monetised Businesses

You don't get clear and fare prices which are beneficial to the consumers by replacing advertising price comparison website to another advertising driven search provider. There are rules in place to prevent this sort of behaviour and Google are offering a poor excuse for changing the ranking of valid search results. they need to publish the rules they use so that compliance can be ascertain by an external body. In this case the EU.

Google recent history is unscrupulous. A hefty fine seems on the cards.

By Manuel on 11 Jan 2013

never mind all that

More EVIL from google.
Redirecting WP users from m.googlemaps to a blank page last week. And this week, blocking access to youtube.
All while refusing MS access to the metadata to make an app themselves.

By nickallison on 12 Jan 2013

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