IDG News Service - The European Commission said today that it's in the early stages of an antitrust investigation into search giant Google Inc.
"The Commission can confirm that it has received three complaints against Google which it is examining," the European Union's top antitrust authority said in a statement.
It added that this doesn't amount to a formal investigation "for the time being."
The Commission said that it informed Google of the investigation earlier this month and asked the company to comment on the allegations. Google will cooperate closely with the national competition authorities from the 27 E.U. member states, it said.
According to a Google blog post that appeared overnight European time, the complaints filed with the Commission came from U.K. price comparison site Foundem, a French legal search engine called eJustice.fr, and a German search site called Ciao that was recently acquired by Microsoft Corp. The Commission did not name the companies.
Google pointed out in its blog that Foundem is a member of a trade group called iComp, which is largely funded by Microsoft.
In a statement, Microsoft said that "it's natural for competition officials to look at online advertising, given how important it is to the development of the Internet and the dominance of one player."
Google's top antitrust lawyer, Julia Holtz, said in a conference call with journalists today that she doesn't expect the Commission to pursue its probe beyond the preliminary stage it is at now.
"We are hopeful we can convince the Commission not to pursue a case. I am confident they will conclude there is nothing to it," she said.
She blamed Microsoft for sparking the probe in the first place. "Microsoft is our competitor, and that explains many actions," she said.
Google's algorithms lie at the heart of the inquiry. While they are written by the company's programmers, Holtz said they try to match what users are looking for as closely as possible. The same is the case for all search engines.
Foundem's complaint focuses on the fact that its Web site dropped sharply down the rankings of pages that appear in Google searches. Foundem argues that this happened because it is being blacklisted because it competes with Google. In December, the price comparison site returned to the high position in the page rankings.
Holtz claimed that Google neither blacklists nor whitelists pages. She said that Foundem returned to greater prominence in Google's search results because "they made changes to their Web site that caused them to rise again." She noted that the webmaster tools on the Google search Web sites give detailed instructions how to gain a higher position in search results.
However, she was less clear about why Foundem fell in the first place. She said Google makes around 400 changes to its search algorithms every year, explaining that changes are necessary in order to stay one step ahead of spammers, who constantly try to get high page rankings for their Web sites, even when their sites don't offer what the users are searching for.
The main factor influencing how pages are ranked is whether they contain users' search terms, but there are around 200 signals that help determine how pages are ranked, Holtz said.
Other Web sites can also influence Google's search results, she said, explaining that "references from others is a good indicator of the importance of a Web site."
- Yahoo can't stall Bing rollout in Taiwan, Hong Kong
- Google keeps Bing, Yahoo at bay in search business
- Google updates Google Now, makes it more prominent on phones
- Yahoo to focus on search -- and Google
- Microsoft's Bing counters Google with Yelp partnership
- Mozilla dumps Yandex as default search for Russian Firefox
- Google aims to make search smarter, easier
- Microsoft Bing goes social in search war with Google
- Facebook tries to out-Google Google with new search tool
- Google, Microsoft each seek search 'game changer'
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Path Selection Infographic
- Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic
- A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era
- From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs
- If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity... All Government IT White Papers
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- All Government IT Webcasts