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Expedia adds to EU antitrust complaints against Google

updated 11:00 pm EDT, Fri March 30, 2012

Accuses search giant of specific violations

The European Commission, already investigating Google for abusing its dominant position to promote its own services over that of rivals, has received an additional complaint from online travel agency Expedia, which accuses Google of specific business and search practices that it says violate EU competition and consumer-protection laws. This brings the total number of complaints against Google to 12, including former Expedia owner Microsoft.

In addition to the antitrust investigation, a different branch of the commission is conducting an inquiry on Google's new unified privacy policy, which went into effect March 1st. The commission has already said that Google is likely to be violating European law, since the policy continues to pass collected data on to third parties without the express consent of users.

The claims from the 12 rivals in the antitrust case, most of whom are smaller Euro-centric search or web services sites, is that Google consistently demoted their sites in favor of promoting its own services in search results. A spokesperson for Google said the company had not yet seen the latest complaint and thus couldn't comment specifically on it, "but we've been working to explain how our business works, cooperating with the European Commission since this investigation began."

Expedia says it has specific details on abuses and accuses Google of harming "not only competition, but consumers" with the practices. "Expedia belives that strong action is needed by the European Commission to restore a fair and competitive marketplace in online search that respects consumers' rights," the company said in a statement.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said he will decide before Easter whether to press charges against the search giant or drop the investigation. US Senator Al Franken has also complained about the risk of privacy abuse by large entities including Google and Facebook.

by MacNN Staff



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