LONDON – The European Commission has decided to open an antitrust investigation into allegations that Google Inc. has abused a dominant position in online search.
The opening of formal proceedings against Google has been prompted by complaints from rival search service providers about unfavourable treatment of their services in Google's unpaid and sponsored search results, according to the Commission.
The Commission's enquiries will cover both the unpaid search results and the paid-for sponsored links which are populated with third-party advertisements on the basis of a search and relevance based on a "quality score."
The allegations are that Google has given preferential placement to the results of its own vertical search services in order to shut out competing services. The Commission will also look into allegations that Google lowered the quality score for sponsored links of competing vertical search services. The quality score is one of the factors that determine the price paid to Google by advertisers, the EC said.
The Commission will also probe allegations that Google imposes exclusivity obligations on advertising partners and restrictions on the use of online advertising campaign data with alternative online advertising platforms.
There is no deadline as to when the investigation must be concluded.