[JURIST] Microsoft [corporate website] announced Wednesday it will file a formal complaint [corporate blog] with the European Commission (EC) [official website] detailing alleged anticompetitive practices by Google [corporate website]. Microsoft claims Google has engaged in “a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative” to Google’s products and services in Europe, where it controls over 90 percent of the search market. Among the “concerns” cited by Microsoft are Google’s technical restrictions on YouTube [corporate website], acquired by the search giant in 2006. Some restrictions prevent competing search engines from properly accessing the site for search results, and others deny permission for Microsoft’s Windows Phones to operate properly with YouTube while allowing Google’s own Android phones and Apple [corporate website] iPhones full access. Microsoft also points to Google’s plan for exclusive access by its search engine to the fruits of Google’s massive and controversial book-scanning initiative [Google Book Search website], as well as contractual prohibitions place by Google on advertisers and leading Web sites in Europe. Finally, Microsoft claims that Google discriminates against potential competitors through algorithmic promotion or demotion of various advertisements, making it more costly to attain prominent placement for those ads.
Google has been facing an ongoing investigation [JURIST report] by the EC over allegations of manipulation of search results to highlight Google’s own products and services. The company has faced separate antitrust inquiries in Italy, Germany and France in addition to the EC probe, in which Microsoft-owned Bing subsidiary Caio was one of the original complainants. Microsoft’s Wednesday announcement of a formal complaint against Google came the same day the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] announced a settlement [JURIST report] with the company over charges that it breached consumer privacy rights and was misleading during the launch of its social networking platform, Google Buzz [website]. These reports come on the heels of last week’s New York court ruling rejecting a proposed settlement [JURIST report] in the 2005 suit brought by authors and publishers over the Google Book Search project. Additionally, in October Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart [official website] announced that Google had violated [JURIST report] the country’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act [text, PDF] by unintentionally capturing personal information while taking pictures for its Google Street View feature [website]. Investigations were also initiated in Australia, South Korea and Spain [JURIST reports].