The European Commission's top antitrust regulator launched an investigation today to see whether Google had abused its dominant position in online search. The E.U.'s probe follows complaints from specialized search companies about “unfavorable treatment of their services." Google's dominance and increasing reach, as it extends into other industries — driverless smart cars! 3-D maps! Internet on your TV! — has not gone over well in Europe, where it controls more than 80 percent of the market for online search. (In the U.S., Google controls only 66 percent. Ha, only!) In addition to serious privacy and copyright infringements in Europe, Google faces antitrust inquiries in Italy, Germany, and France. The E.U.'s investigation will focus on online advertising. The inquiry will look at whether Google unfairly lowered the Quality Score ranking for its competitors, gave itself preferential treatment, and forced companies that used its advertising services into an exclusive agreement. For its part, Google mumbled something about not being evil and "room for improvement." Oh, Europe. Trying to stop Google, at least for the time being, is like trying to stop gravity. You can impose restrictions on it and fight in the opposite direction, but the natural pull of things keeps going the other way.
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