European antitrust regulators are looking into Google, following complaints by legal search engine EJustice.fr, price comparison site Foundem.co.uk and Microsoft-owned price comparison website Ciao.de. The three online companies accuse Google of abusing its marketshare and stifling competition, the first two firms complain they don't rank high enough in Google's search results, while Ciao also complains about Google's advertising terms and conditions.
In a statement, the European Commission confirmed that it had received three complaints against Google that it was looking into. It emphasised that it had not opened a formal investigation.
"As is usual when the Commission receives complaints, it informed Google earlier this month and asked the company to comment on the allegations," it said. "The Commission closely cooperates with the national competition authorities."
Google denies any wrongdoing, the company says its business is in line with European competition law, and subtly hints that they didn't have any problems with Ciao until the company was acquired by Microsoft in 2008:
Regarding Ciao!, they were a long-time AdSense partner of Google's, with whom we always had a good relationship. However, after Microsoft acquired Ciao! in 2008 (renaming it Ciao! from Bing) we started receiving complaints about our standard terms and conditions. They initially took their case to the German competition authority, but it now has been transferred to Brussels.
Though each case raises slightly different issues, the question they ultimately pose is whether Google is doing anything to choke off competition or hurt our users and partners. This is not the case. We always try to listen carefully if someone has a real concern and we work hard to put our users' interests first and to compete fair and square in the market. We believe our business practices reflect those commitments.