Google may face massive fines over allegations it is manipulating Internet search results for its own commercial advantage.
Some consumer groups claim that users are being directed to Google’s own shopping price comparison services, maps, books and its YouTube website at the expense of rivals.
The European consumer body, BEUC, has written to the European Commission vice president, Joaquín Almunia, to highlight the threat caused by Google’s dominance, The Daily Mail reports.
“We are concerned that the dominant search engine, Google, may have abused its position in the search market to direct users to its own services and secondly to reduce the visibility of competing websites and services,” said BEUC director general, Monique Goyens,
“Given its role as gatekeeper to the internet, Google is in a unique position to restrict access to its competitors and direct traffic to its own services,” she added.
In May 2007, Google introduced what it calls ‘Universal Search’, a method for automatically inserting its own services into prominent positions within its natural search results.
As a result, people looking for the best price on various products find suggestions highlighted by Google’s own price comparison service, Google Product Search, inserted at the top of the results.
Meanwhile, the European Commission is currently investigating the issue and is due to make an announcement on whether a formal inquiry will be launched within days.
According to the paper, the US authorities, the Federal Communications Commission, are also investigating Google over similar concerns.