Internet giant Google is being investigated by the European Commission amid complaints that it has abused its dominant market position.
A number of smaller providers claim the California-based firm manipulates its paid and sponsored search results, leaving them at a disadvantage.
“There is a lack of transparency in the way that Google decides how to rank results in searches so your company may come up on top one day, and come up at the bottom the next day, and no one understands why,” said Jonathan Zuck, the President of the Association for Competitive Technology. “And so an investigation like this, hopefully, will allow Google to make more clear how it is that they make those decisions.”
Google denies breaking competition rules but says it will work with the Commission to address any concerns.
“There is one important point always to remember here, that competition is really one click away,” said Google’s Senior Communications Manager, Bill Echikson. “The user is never locked in and he is free, just with the click of his mouse, to go somewhere else and find information on the internet.”
Brussels says the inquiry does not imply there is any proof of wrongdoing. But it has clashed with technology giants before, notably Microsoft, and can fine firms up to 10 per cent of their global turnover for breaching EU rules.