The European Commission has opened an anti-trust investigation into Google to determine whether the company has been abusing its dominant position in the search market.
Google has been accused of lowering the unpaid rankings of its competitors' services and promoting its own services in their place.
The firm is also accused of lowering the 'Quality Score' for sponsored links from competing search services, meaning that the competition has to pay more to effectively achieve the same ranking.
The initiation of proceedings does not imply that the EC has proof of any wrongdoing, but that an in-depth investigation will be carried out.
"The probe will additionally focus on allegations that Google imposes exclusivity obligations on advertising partners, preventing them from placing certain types of competing ads on their web sites, as well as on computer and software vendors, with the aim of shutting out competing search tools," the EC said in a statement.
"Finally, it will investigate suspected restrictions on the portability of online advertising campaign data to competing online advertising platforms."
Google issued the following statement in response to the investigation.
"Since we started Google we have worked hard to do the right thing by our users and our industry, ensuring that ads are always clearly marked, making it easy for users to take their data with them when they switch services, and investing heavily in open source projects," the company said.
"But there is always going to be room for improvement, and so we'll be working with the Commission to address any concerns."
Google faced an anti-trust probe last year when the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers claimed that, by not disclosing its news ranking process, the company did not give publishers enough information to fine tune coverage and obtain greater advertising revenues.
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