Fresh from having settled a 8.5 billion USD lawsuit over the privacy scandal-ridden launch of Google Buzz, the company behind the world’s leading search engine again finds itself in the line of legal fire.
An anti-trust investigation into Google’s business practices has been initiated by the office of the Texas Attorney General. The office has been in contact with Google regarding complaints made by several businesses that the search engine giant has been unfairly penalising their company websites within its search results.
Google also came under formal review by a European regulatory body over similar complaints in February this year. That case is still pending, as is another that was filed in Ohio.
The central accusation across all these inquiries is that Google apparently disfavours successful websites that generate business for its major competitors – specifically Microsoft. Microsoft-oriented price comparison sites in both Europe and the United States have claimed discrimination by Google.
Though Microsoft has directed regulatory body heat toward Google in the past, it denies direct involvement with the latest legal salvo in Texas. Google has been quick to point out however that the legal representation for the companies in the American anti-trust cases against it have a history of collaboration with Microsoft.
And in case anyone had forgotten, that Microsoft was itself the subject of an anti-trust investigation in 1998.
Naturally, Google has denied that any of its business practices are below the board, claiming that the reason that the websites in question are not performing well in the search results is that they are not regularly updated with fresh and relevant content.
Whether this justification holds up as valid in the eyes of regulators remains to be seen.
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