Investigators for India’s competition authorities have concluded that Google has abused its dominant position in online search advertising, adding to the lengthening list of global regulatory problems facing the US technology group.
The Competition Commission of India first began investigating Google in 2012, focusing in particular on AdWords, its online advertisement service.
As part of that process, the CCI’s investigative arm has completed a preliminary report, a copy of which has been seen by the Financial Times. It suggests a variety of breaches of competition law.
The Indian investigation comes as Google readies for a protracted legal dispute with the European Commission, which earlier this year accused the group of unfairly promoting its shopping services in search results.
It also follows other global antitrust investigations over recent years, including a landmark 2013 ruling in the US that cleared the company of giving unfair search prominence to its own products.
India’s government is investigating four complaints against Google, two of which are dealt with in the report. These were filed by Bharat Matrimony, an online matrimonial site, and Consumer Unity & Trust Society, a consumer protection group.
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Google Maps has blurred out the home of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who deliberately crashed a Germanwings flight into the French Alps.
Lubitz reportedly lived with his girlfriend in a flat in Dusseldorf, Germany, but anyone typing the address into Google Street View is shown a pixelated square instead of the property.
Following Lubitz’s decision to crash the Airbus 320 into the Alps last Tuesday, killing himself and 149 other people on board, some of his relatives have deleted their Facebook pages in order to maintain their privacy, according to reports.
Google did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
Germany has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, with Lufthansa, Germanwings’ parent company, claiming it was powerless to know the details of Lubitz’s medical history amid reports he had suicidal tendancies.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that the internet will become so ubiquitous that it will “disappear,” CNET reports.
When asked about his views on the future evolution of the web, the Google Chairman stated that he would “answer very simply that the internet will disappear.” Schmidt explained “there will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it; it will be part of your presence all the time.”
“Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room. A highly personalized, highly interactive and very, very interesting world emerges,” he noted.
Schmidt was speaking at a panel dubbed “The Future of the Digital Economy,” along with top executives from Vodafone, Facebook, and Microsoft.
This won’t upset any Thanksgiving dinner plans, but Google should still take note.
The US-based web company has earned the ire of European parliamentarians, who have just voted 458 to 173 in Strasbourg in favour of a resolution that suggests its search engine could be separated from the rest of its services in order to remove a perceived bias in its results.
The vote lacks any of the heft of an antitrust investigation, but has ticked off US legislators, who say the move unnecessarily politicises the European Commission’s continuing inquiry into Google’s affairs.
The motion calling for the commission to consider unbundling Google’s services had been widely expected to pass on Thursday since it had the backing of the parliament’s two main political groups – the centre-right EPP and the centre-left Socialists.
It echoed ideas raised earlier this year by Sigmar Gabriel, the centre-left German vice-chancellor.
The commission’s five-year antitrust probe into Google’s search practices is currently under review after three aborted attempts to settle the case.
Although it is facing increasingly vocal demands from MEPs to take a tougher and more radical approach, competition officials have so far shown little enthusiasm to restructure Google.
It’s 10 years to the day since Google’s initial public offering and its shares are now nearly a 1000 per cent higher.
That’s according to Google Finance (see chart) before the market open in New York today.
There are lots more stats around to mark the August 19 anniversary.
The Wall Street Journal notes how employees have grown from 2,000 to 52,000, cash in hand is up from a quarter of a billion dollars to $61bn, while Google has only had limited success in reducing its dependence on advertising – from around 99 per cent of revenues to 90 per cent.
From Google itself, there’s no Google Doodle on its home page to mark the occasion and no statement or list of achievements for the past ten years as a public company.