Expedia Says Google Violates EU Competition Rules

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The company claims it has proof that Google search is not fair

Online travel agency Expedia has joined a long list of companies with a grudge against Google by filing a complaint against the search company with the European Commission competition authority on Friday.

Expedia claimed it has evidence of Google abusing its dominant position and violating EU competition and consumer protection laws, reports Reuters.

Not a vacation

Expedia said it had details of specific anti-competitive business and search practices by the most popular search engine in the world.

“The complaint offers evidence of how Google’s conduct harms not only competition, but consumers,” Brent Thompson, senior vice president of government affairs, said in a statement.

“Expedia believes that strong action is needed by the European Commission to restore a fair and competitive marketplace in online search that respects consumers’ rights,” he added.

Google has promised to be forthcoming in yet another competition investigation. “Because there’s always room for improvement, we’re happy to discuss any concerns the Commission might have,” Google spokesman Al Verney responded to the complaint in a statement.

It is expected that EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia will decide whether to formally charge Google or drop the investigation after Easter.

A complaint from Expedia is not a surprise. The company has been part of the FairSearch coalition, a faction made up of Google competitors including Kayak, TripAdvisor and Travelocity, since its launch in October 2010. The FairSearch coalition describes itself as “a group of businesses and organisations united to promote economic growth, innovation and choice across the Internet ecosystem by fostering and defending competition in online and mobile search”.

Recent statement by FairSearch says, “Google’s abuse of its dominance in search and search advertising threatens to undermine innovation, consumer choice and competition. As a result, Google’s business practices are now under investigation by multiple international competition enforcement authorities, including the European Commission.”

There are now 12 complaints against the search provider with the EU regulators, the majority of them small competitors across Europe, which have claimed Google demoted their sites and promoted its own services.

Microsoft, part of the coalition, filed a formal antitrust complaint against Google in March last year, accusing it of “walling off access to content and data that competitors need to provide search results to consumers and to attract advertisers”.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission opened a full-scale investigation into Google’s dominance in early 2011.

Last year, Almunia already expressed his concern about the number of possible complaints against Google due to its peculiar position in the market.

Google’s privacy policy is currently the subject of a separate investigation by EU privacy regulators.

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