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Competition law: Google sued by Streetmap for anti-competitive search

Internet search giant Google is being sued in the UK High Court by rival Streetmap, who claim that their company profile is being damaged because Google's search algorithm preferentially places its own Google Maps ahead of other services, reports Bloomberg.

Streetmap, a UK-based provider of maps for the internet, filed a complaint in the High Court in mid-March this year, contending that Google's search algorithm made its services harder to find.

The news makes Streetmap the second major company to file a lawsuit on similar grounds recently, after UK-based shopping site Foundem launched an action last June.

It also mirrors a current EU probe into the way Google's search operates and whether it favours Google products over those provided by other companies.

Kate Sutton, the commercial director of Streetmap, said the legal action was necessary to stop a 'cynical' manipulation of search results.

"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," she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Google has offered a solution to the problem being investigated by the EU, by offering to ensure that any Google products or services offered on their own search site are clearly labeled as such.

The matter is one for anti-competition lawyers, as such practices are deemed to stifle competition.

Joaquin Almunia is the European Union Competition Commissioner.

"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," he said.

The EU is seeking legally binding assurances from Google on a range of anti-competitive issues, including addressing allegations that its sites copy reviews from other independent sites and pass them off as their own.

The positioning of search results can have a major impact on the traffic to a given website. In one survey conducted, moving from top of the Google rankings to position number 10 removed around 85% of website traffic.

Source:

Google Sued Over Searches as European Probes Advance (Bloomberg)