Google sued by Streetmap for "cynical manipulation" of search results

Google continues to find itself embroiled in a range of unsavoury legal dramas, with the latest development seeing the global search giant sued by UK-based cartography website Streetmap.

Streetmap is one of 11 complainants in an EU probe investigating whether the Internet titan is abusing its dominant position in the European search field, where it enjoys a market share in excess of 90 per cent.

The maps site is now also taking its grievance to Britain's High Court (pictured, top), describing the move as a further necessary defensive action "complementary" to the current stirrings over in Brussels. For its part, Streetmap claims its popularity has been adversely affected by Google's "anti-competitive conduct."

"This is about choice and about Google's refusal to provide end users with a choice or to compete on fair reasonable and non discriminatory terms with smaller competitors," said Kate Sutton, commercial director of Streetmap

"We have had to take this action in an effort to protect our business and attract attention to those that, like us, have started their own technology businesses, only to find them damaged by Google's cynical manipulation of search results," she added.

Google is having no end of difficulty convincing Europe's competition regulators that its search algorithm is an equal opportunities computator.

The recent multi-party complaint against the search giant has led the EU's chief competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, to highlight four areas of concern where Google may be abusing its dominant position in search. Almunia could now issue a Statement of Objection, which would be the first step in the EU bringing formal charges against Google.

"To avoid abuse we need to guarantee that users of the search engine have a choice and that search results have the highest possible quality," Almunia said.

However, the commissioner has indicated that it would be preferable to reach a settlement with the Silicon Valley behemoth that prevents the need for a full investigation. Google is currently understood to be preparing a new round of proposed changes to its business practices in response to the latest concerns.