Ballmer backs anti-Google group -

Software Imperium Microsoft has been linked to a group which has been gunning for Google in the EU.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the outfit has the catchy title Initiative For A Competitive Online Marketplace, or ICOMP. It has been trying to bend the ear of regulators and journalists about Google's dominance in search. ICOMP was one of the forces that inspired the EU to launch an investigation into Google last month.

The Daily Telegraph claims that ICOMP is an organisation whose sole purpose appears to be to attack Google. It was set up to protest against Google's Doubleclick acquisition and has spent the last few years churning out bog posts slamming the search giant and approaching journalists out of the blue with carefully primed stories.

ICOMP's sole financer appears to be Steve Ballmer - who also handpicked ICOMP's directors.

All interesting stuff, but as the SF Gate points out.DTL was revealed by the Wall Street Journal and The Observer in 2007.

But what is new is the organisation's effectiveness and how "influence by proxy" is becoming a common practice in the technology industry.

The Imperium experienced this first hand when it was itself under investigation by the EU in the early 2000s. One of the names that kept popping up on court documents was the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS). That organisation was funded by IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Nokia, Opera, and RealNetworks.

The Imperium is linked with another organisation that sometimes pops up. That is the Association for Competitive Technology. It's funded by both Microsoft, Oracle, eBay, Verisign and a few others.

The Guardian hints that there are dark forces at work to bring down Google. But these groups are only powerful if hacks treat them seriously and print what they say. ICOMP makes no secret of the fact that it takes money from the Imperium.