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Canada probing Google Search for anti-competitive practices

Google could be in trouble in Canada with the country’s Competition Bureau announcing it is investigating if the company is abusing its dominant position in the search engine market.

The Competition Bureau of Canada has filed documents with the Federal Court of Canada asking for various Google Canada records that show the firm’s search and advertising practices as it attempts to ascertain whether it broke the rules.

Google stands accused of breaking the rules in relation to deals it has made with hardware manufacturers and software vendors to be the default search engine in third-party services. The documents also state that it could have taken advantage of search results to favour its own ‘vertical’ services, such as Google News, over those of its competitors and adds that AdWords makes it hard for users to move information to competing services.

“The Commissioner has reason to believe that Google’s alleged practice of anti-competitive acts, independently and/or on a combined basis, have had, are having, or are likely to have the effect of preventing or lessening competition substantially in the market for search services and search advertising services in Canada,” Mark MacLachlan, a senior competition law officer with the Competition Bureau in Ottawa wrote in the Section 11 request, according to the Financial Post.

The Competition Bureau has been working on the investigation for some time and said that it has “obtained information from numerous sources, including complainants and competitors of Google.”

“In addition to providing information to the Bureau, one of the complainants provided the Bureau with a list of examples of questions that could be included in a Section 11 order the Bureau could seek in respect of Google Canada and its affiliates,” the Bureau added.

Google has already been investigated for similar practices by the US Federal Trade Commission [FTC] with the probe resulting in a two-part order that saw the firm make small shifts in policy.