With imminent troubles looming in Europe, Canada just closed its three year investigation into anti-competitive practices involving Google’s search and advertising business (via The Verge). The country’s Competition Bureau ultimately “did not find sufficient evidence” that Google’s practices harmed local rivals.
The case was opened in 2013 and only found one instance of anti-competitive behavior involving AdWords. Specifically, the terms of service prevented users from advertising on other search engines. As a remedy, Google has agreed to not include any similar limitations for the next five years in Canadian products.
Besides AdWords, the Competition Bureau investigated five other fields related to search. In regards to search manipulation, Canada concluded that though “Google frequently makes changes to the algorithm it uses to rank search results, evidence obtained over the course of the investigation indicates that Google’s changes are generally made to improve user experiences.”
With the US, Europe, India, and Russia possibly investigating anti-trust allegations involving Android and bundled services, Canada found that “consumers can and do change the default search engine on their desktop and mobile devices if they prefer a different one to the pre‑loaded default.” This particular finding will likely help Google’s argument in future legal troubles.
While this particular case is a win for Google, the Competition Bureau will be “closely following developments with respect to Google’s ongoing conduct, including the results from investigations of our international counterparts.” Android, not search, could be the source of potential legal troubles in the very near future.
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