European Commission probes Google for antitrust violations

The European Commission aims to keep a digital market that is fair to everyone and attempts to prevent monopolies in the digital world. Well-known for their strife against Microsoft for including Internet Explorer with their Windows OS instead of offering competing browsers, the European Commission is now investigating Google over favoring their own services in search results instead of a true unbiased list.

Google is accused of altering both forms of their results, the unpaid search results and the third-party advertisements, announced today by the European Commission. The unpaid search results are the main results on the page, which are selected based on an algorithm. The Commission however is looking into the results to see whether Google has abused their position as the top search engine by tweaking results to favor their own services and close out competitors.

Specifically, the search giant is accused of altering both types of results shown in their search. Google is allegedly lowering the ranking of the unpaid search results of competing companies and services to Google's own; the second part deals with how third-party advertisements are chosen to be displayed.

The European Commission is looking into allegations of lowering the "Quality Score" of competing services. The Quality Score determines two articles of criteria: the likelihood of an ad to be displayed on the search results page and how much it would cost for a service to gain higher rankings. By lowering the Quality Score of competing services, they are less likely to show the ads, but also if the competing service wishes for their ad to be shown, they will need to pay more for that higher ranking.

Google is also accused of enforcing stricter requirements for their advertising partners which will prevent competing companies to place the same advertisements shown on Google onto their own websites or other search engines such as Bing.

Currently, the European Commission says the probe doesn't imply they have any proof. They responded to the matter by saying, "It only signifies that the commission will conduct an in-depth investigation of the case as a matter of priority," in a statement regarding the issue.

Google has posted their thoughts on the issue on their Public Policy Blog. The search giant highlights four major points that they would like everyone to be aware of regarding their service: "Answering users' queries accurately and quickly is our number one goal", "We built Google for users, not websites", "We are always clear when we have been paid for promoting a product or service", and "We aim to be as transparent as possible."

Throughout Google's response, they attempt to make it clear that they are the most open with how their ranking system works and keep integrity of their results. In response to the advertisement tampering accusations, Google reports they aim to give accurate content as fast as possible, so based on what the algorithms say the user needs the most is how the ads will be chosen. Another point made was that the search results are not for websites, but for getting the most relevant content to the user. They do not forget to note either how Google has never taken bribes or payment for higher rankings in their search results. One way by doing that was specifically splitting up the advertisement portion and the organic search results section.

Google closes their response by mentioning the change and innovation going on at the company, listing several services and how the world is moving in the direction of dynamic and real-time content. Google says they only offer pure results, but will respect the European Commission's process and will continue to work closely with them and answer any of their questions.

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10 Comments

In before the do no evil comments made by the same people who complained about the ballot screen.

I'm happy europe takes monopolies seriously and i would like to see our north american governments do the same.

LaP said,
In before the do no evil comments made by the same people who complained about the ballot screen.

I'm happy europe takes monopolies seriously and i would like to see our north american governments do the same.

We do apparently take them seriously enough to hand out copious amounts of cash to them.

LaP said,
In before the do no evil comments made by the same people who complained about the ballot screen.

I'm happy europe takes monopolies seriously and i would like to see our north american governments do the same.

I just don't like the double standards due to it. If MS is forced to use a ballot screen in Windows then Apple (or any other OS) should too in their OS. On the other side, if Google is found of 'wrong doing' like MS was then if MS is doing the same with Bing then they should have to 'fix it' as well.

About the ballot screen : I never understood why you have to go through the registry when you want to disable it while keeping IE as your main browser.

Bengal34 said,

I just don't like the double standards due to it. If MS is forced to use a ballot screen in Windows then Apple (or any other OS) should too in their OS. On the other side, if Google is found of 'wrong doing' like MS was then if MS is doing the same with Bing then they should have to 'fix it' as well.


the EU Commission tries to prevent the largest in a market from becoming a monopoly. Thus MS had to do the ballot screen and not apple, linux or chromium, as neither is large enough to 'abuse' their position to become a monopoly.
same with search, bing isnt nearly as big as google (in europe)

neufuse said,
Google to bail out Ireland via fines..... *cough* oh, we arn't doing sarcasim today?

why not, the US wants to fine BP billions of dollars for the oil disaster, while they used government aproved drilling measures.
which could possibly make BP go bankrupt, when this happends. Allot of seniors in the UK have their pensions go up in smoke. And cause harm to millions.

But hey, thats fine.... BP follows nations rules & laws, still gets fined....
Google breaks EU law and gets fined... and its WROANG????

double standards much

So the EC doesn't want Google products to appear at the top of the list of a Google search? I don't see anywhere on Google's website where they allude that the search results are based purely on popularity and not ranked in some other way.

Google provides a free service to index the web and allow us to search it. Again, this is all FOR FREE. So is there really a problem putting YOUR OWN links at the top of the search results ON YOUR OWN search engine?

This is ridiculous.

Breakthrough said,
So the EC doesn't want Google products to appear at the top of the list of a Google search? I don't see anywhere on Google's website where they allude that the search results are based purely on popularity and not ranked in some other way.

Google provides a free service to index the web and allow us to search it. Again, this is all FOR FREE. So is there really a problem putting YOUR OWN links at the top of the search results ON YOUR OWN search engine?

This is ridiculous.

Yes, that's the problem - when you are in a dominant position - that's fine. But only as long as you don't abuse your dominant position to push your other stuff with an advantage over the competition. It's the same issue with Windows and IE and Media Player.

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