EU launches formal Google probe after complaints

BRUSSELS, Nov 30 (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators launched a formal investigation on Tuesday into Google GOOG.O after several search service providers complained that the company had abused its dominant position.

“The (European) Commission will investigate whether Google has abused a dominant market position in online search by allegedly lowering the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services,” the EU executive said in a statement.

World No.1 search engine Google said in February that British price comparison site Foundem and French legal search engine had alleged that its search algorithm demoted their sites in Web search results because they were rivals.

It said Microsoft-owned MSFT.O Ciao from Bing had complained about its standard terms and conditions.

The Commission said it would also look into allegations that Google sets exclusivity obligations on advertising partners, preventing them from placing certain types of competing ads on their websites, as well as on computer and software vendors, with the aim of shutting out competing search tools.

It would also investigate suspected restrictions on the portability of online advertising campaign data to competing online advertising platforms. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Bate Felix, editing by Rex Merrifield)