Just as Google is coming to the end of a long legal battle in Europe, it seems a new case is just starting, and this time much closer to home. Canadian government regulators are reportedly preparing to open a formal investigation into Google concerning their abuse of their dominance in the Internet search market. Regulators suspect that Google is stifling competition and taking steps which would drive up digital advertising prices, including the prices for Google’s AdWords program, which generates a large percentage of Google revenue.
The Competition Bureau in Canada has filed paperwork in an Ottawa federal court indicating that it believes Google has been breaking Canadian antitrust laws. The bureau wants the courts to require Google to provide investigators with internal company records relevant to their case.
One of the primary accusations being made is that Google has been providing preferential treatment to their own products and services. This, of course, is not a new criticism of Google. Many people, including those at the competition bureau, believe that when people perform a Google search, they are overly likely to be provided with results including YouTube videos (YouTube is owned by Google) or other pages owned or operated by the search giant.
Mark MacLachlan, who is from the competition agency, said that based on their initial investigations, they believe that they have, “reason to believe that the manner in which Google operates its search engine and search-advertising platforms amount to an abuse of a dominant position.”
Google spokeswoman Leslie Church has said that, “We will work cooperatively with the Competition Bureau to answer any questions they may have.” Naturally, that is a fairly vague answer, which is to be expected at this early stage in the legal process.
Earlier this year, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) closed a similar investigation into Google’s finding that Google had not done anything wrong. These types of cases, and others related to privacy concerns, continue to plague Google around the world.
What, if any, impact that type of case will have on Google, and more broadly, on those who use Google’s many services, has yet to be seen.