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EU launches Google investigation after complaints

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European Union antitrust regulators opened on Tuesday a formal investigation into Google after rival services complained that the world's No. 1 internet search engine abused its dominant position.

   

The move came more than nine months after British price comparison site Foundem and French legal search engine ejustice.fr alleged Google's search algorithm demoted their sites in Web search results because they were rivals.

   

Microsoft-owned Ciao, from Bing, also filed a complaint with the European Commission about Google's standard terms and conditions.

   

"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.

   

Google said it would co-operate with the regulator.

   

"There is always going to be room for improvement, so we will be working with the Commission to address any concerns," a Google spokesman said.

   

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.

   

The Commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching EU rules. It has slapped billions of euros in fines on Microsoft and Intel in the past for abuse of market dominance.

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