EU launches preliminary antitrust probe against Google

Now that Microsoft's browser selection story is all but settled, it looks like the European Union is gearing up for a new antitrust probe, with its crosshairs aimed generally in Google's direction. According to the search giant's Senior Competition Counsel Julia Holtz (via its European Public Policy Blog), complaints from three European internet companies -- legal search group, price comparison site, and German-based Microsoft subsidiary -- have prompted the European Commission to launch a preliminary, fact-finding probe. The charges? Anticompetitive practices stemming from unfair downranking of its competitors in search results. Google denies any wrongdoing, while adding ,"we are also the first to admit that our search is not perfect, but it's a very hard computer science problem to crack." The Microsoft connection seems particularly notable to Google; Holtz reiterates that the company had a good relationship with Ciao until the Redmond company picked it up in 2008 -- "we started receiving complaints about our standard terms and conditions." Like we said, at this point it's just a fact-finding probe that could end up going nowhere, but seriously, Google's lawyers cannot seem to get a break these days.