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Group Calls On Justice To Probe Google Searches

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Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 9:55 am

    consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog wrote the Justice Department
    Wednesday to urge it to investigate allegations that Google is
    manipulating its search results to favor its own products.

    "As part of your continued antitrust investigation we call on you to
    shine a light on Google’s black box, and require it to explain what’s
    behind search results," the group said in a letter to Christine Varney,
    the assistant attorney general for antitrust. "If, as it appears,
    Google is tweaking results to further its narrow agenda, this
    anticompetitive behavior must be stopped."

    The group noted that Tuesday’s announcement that the European
    Commission is investigating complaints from three Internet firms that
    Google’s search engine favors its own products in searches "in an
    anticompetitive manner demonstrates the seriousness of the issue." One
    of those firms, the British price comparison site Foundem, provided
    examples in comments
    filed this week with the FCC on its open-Internet proceeding of how
    Google favors its own products in its searches, said Consumer Watchdog,
    which also has been critical of Google’s digital books project.

    Google has defended its business practices and its search results,
    saying in a blog post Tuesday that, "We understand how important
    rankings can be to Web sites, especially commercial ones, because a
    higher ranking typically drives higher volumes of traffic. We are also
    the first to admit that our search is not perfect, but it’s a very hard
    computer science problem to crack."

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