The European Commission (EC) has launched a anti-trust investigation against Google following complaints from three European internet companies alleging that the internet search giant suppresses competition by using penalty filters to place certain sites from its search results so far down the rankings that they will never be found.
The Mountain View, California-based Google's senior competition counsel Julia Holtz said in the company's European Public Policy Blog posted early today morning that the EC has notified the company that it has received complaints from three companies, a UK price comparison site, Foundem, a French legal search engine called ejustice.fr, and shopping site Ciao, owned by Microsoft.
The Brussels-based anti-trust regulator has asked Google to explain how its search engine operates as well as questioned the way it sells advertising.
The investigation comes at a time, when the EC, which has a history of going after high technology companies like Microsoft and Google, is facing heightened scrutiny in Europe since it has a stranglehold in the search business in Europe and the region's ongoing problems with its "Street View" technology.
Holtz said that Foundem alleges that Google's algorithms demote their site in Google's search results because they are a vertical search engine and so a direct competitor to Google and ejustice.fr 's complaint seems to echo these concerns.
Foundem had said in a blog post in August, ''Google has always used various penalty filters to remove certain sites entirely from its search results or place them so far down the rankings that they will never be found.