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."