"The [European] Commission will investigate whether Google has abused a dominant market position in online search by allegedly lowering the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services," the EU executive said in a statement today (30 November).
Google, the world's number one search engine, said in February that British price comparison site Foundem and French legal search engine ejustice.fr had alleged that its search algorithm demoted their sites in Web search results because they were rivals.
It said Microsoft-owned Ciao from Bing had complained about its standard terms and conditions.
The Commission said it would also look into allegations that Google sets exclusivity obligations on advertising partners, preventing them from placing certain types of competing ads on their websites, as well as on computer and software vendors, with the aim of shutting out competing search tools.
It would also investigate suspected restrictions on the portability of online advertising campaign data to competing online advertising platforms.
Google today sent a placatory note to the European competition authority, saying it would be looking into the complaints.
"Since we started Google we have worked hard to do the right thing by our users and our industry -ensuring that ads are always clearly marked, making it easy for users and advertisers to take their data with them when they switch services, and investing heavily in open source projects," a Google spokesperson said.
"But there's always going to be room for improvement, and so we'll be working with the Commission to address any concerns," the spokesperson continued.
(EurActiv with Reuters.)