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EU probing Google Internet dominance abuse complaints

This January 11, 2011 screen imageshows the Google logo in Washington,DC.

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

European Union regulators are undecided whether Google Inc. dominates in Internet search and if it has abused rivals in breach of competition rules, the EU's antitrust chief said on Friday.

The European Commission opened an investigation into Google in November last year after rivals, including Microsoft Corp. , accused the company of abusing its dominant position in the market for web search services.

"As part of our current investigation, we are trying to determine whether the company holds a dominant position in Internet search," EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a competition conference in Florence.

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"Google is the browser of choice for very many of us, but dominance is not the same as abuse of dominance. Abuse is a conduct that protects or extends dominance by illegitimate means, and we still have to conclude whether this is the case for Google," he said.

Google is the world's most popular search engine with more than 90 per cent of the global market, according to Internet statistics firm StatCounter.

Its Chrome web browser had 22 per cent of the global market in July, Microsoft's Internet Explorer had 42.5 per cent while Mozilla's Firefox had 28 per cent.

Google faces nine antitrust complaints filed with EU regulators, sources told Reuters last month, as rivals turned up the heat on the firm.

The Commission can fine companies up to 10 per cent of their global turnover for violating EU rules. In recent years, it has hit Microsoft and Intel with billion-euro fines for abusing their dominant positions.

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