Zut alore! Google's in trouble over in France, again.
An anticompetitive complaint has cropped up from French search engine 1plusV. We hadn't heard of it either, but it alleges that between 2006 and 2010, Google stopped vertical search outfits from using its advertising service, AdSense. 1plusV looks after search engines that focus on law, music and culture, including eJustice.fr, says the BBC.
According to 1plusV, Google made its sites invisible. "For eJustice.fr, Google's decision to remove it from its search results was catastrophic in terms of traffic," it was quoted as saying.
Google says the problem lies in the hands of companies. They must "improve" websites to push them up to the top of search result rankings. This is otherwise known as the dark art, Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, which sees every website on the internet locked in a constant battle to remain top of the pops.
eJustice.fr says it's poppycock, having been relisted without any modification at all in December last year. "The relisting is in complete contradiction with the Google argument that eJustice.fr was delisted because it provided no value to the internet user," it said.
For now, the European Commission is giving Google some time to explain itself before it gets heavy handed. If it's found in the wrong, though, Google may have to pay out a heap of dosh.
Google has faced criticism from plenty of smaller rival search outfits in the past, including Foundem, SourceTool and myTriggers. Foundem was essentially funded by Microsoft. All complained that Google had been fiddling with search results.