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Google facing complaints over e-commerce competition

26 January 2012 - 11:15 by Sarah Collinson

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Search giant Google is dominant in its primary field of operation, but now a French online retail site is taking the firm to task over the way in which it reportedly handles its immediate rivals.

Google is well known for diversifying its product portfolio, entering social networking with Google+, the mobile market with Android and even the e-commerce sector with Google Shopping, its price comparison tool, which people in the UK and elsewhere can use to look for cheap places to carry out safe shopping online for their preferred items.

Now French e-commerce price comparison site, Twenga, is taking its complaints against Google to the European Commission, claiming that Google is nefariously manipulating search results so that users are more likely to use Google's tools rather than visit dedicated sites which offer competing capabilities.

Bastien Duclaux, founder of Twenga, explained that he believes Google has become bolder in its search result manipulation over the past 12 months, with a view to driving rival operators out of business and harvesting a larger proportion of people who are looking for safe shopping online.

Mr Duclaux believes that the economies of EU countries, which of course includes the UK, will be adversely affected if Google continues in its alleged practices and he hopes that the EC will be able to intervene in this matter.

Of course Google is something of a soft target in this particular debate, since its search algorithms are the gateway to the web for most people and as the gate keeper you could easily portray it as exploiting its position. Other complaints relating to its sponsored search results have been made in the past.

It will be interesting to see how the EC decides the fate of this complaint, because it could have major implications for Google's activities in the EU.