Now that Microsoft’s browser selection story story is all but settled, it looks like the European Union is gearing up for a new antitrust probe, with its crosshairs aimed generally in Google’s direction. According to the search giant’s Senior Competition Counsel Julia Holtz (via its European Public Policy Blog), complaints from three European internet companies — legal search group EJustice.fr, price comparison site Foundem.co.uk, and German-based Microsoft subsidiary Ciao.de — have prompted the European Commission to launch a preliminary, fact-finding probe. The charges? Anticompetitive practices stemming from unfair downranking of its competitors in search results. Google denies any wrongdoing, while adding ,”we are also the first to admit that our search is not perfect, but it’s a very hard computer science problem to crack.” The Microsoft connection seems particularly notable to Google; Holtz reiterates that the company had a good relationship with Ciao until the Redmond company picked it up in 2008 — “we started receiving complaints about our standard terms and conditions.” Like we said, at this point it’s just a fact-finding probe that could end up going nowhere, but seriously, Google’s lawyers cannot seem to get a break these days.
The very fact they are doing the probe indicates that they don’t believe that Google has the right to provide the service they’d like. They they can’t use just any ranking algorithm they please. It must be neutral with regard to competitors. They may as well be suggesting that Coke and Pepsi should be advertising for each other. Google’s service, Google’s servers, Google’s prerogative. If you don’t like their ranking algo… don’t use it. It’s FREE anyway! Go use Yahoo, Bing or Start Page.
It’s just pathetic. Perhaps those companies should provide a better product and allow it to speak for them rather than looking to artificially expose themselves by using the guns of government.