Canada’s Competition Bureau is launching a formal inquiry into the business practices of Google’s Canadian operations. A formal notification has been sent to Google (based in California, USA) and Google has responded publicly that they plan to cooperate.
While the exact nature of the inquiry hasn’t been disclosed, it’s very likely to be regarding Google’s search and advertising practices, which have been scrutinized by governments globally. We may not know what, exactly, the Competition Bureau is looking at, since their inquiries are confidential until any prosecution takes place.
In the past, Google has been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission in the United States, by authorities in China, Japan, and Europe, and it has usually weathered these storms and either come out on top or paid a settlement and walked away. In the case of the U.S. inquiry, it lead to substantial agreements by Google to give more open access to some of its standard patents (mostly in mobile) and give advertisers more flexibility with rival search engines.
Google maintains that its search query algorithms are neutral, but many have alleged that they favor some services (specifically Google’s) over others.
This is late-breaking news, so information is scanty, but follows on the U.S. FTC’s look and in a current investigation by the European Union for similar competition reasons. Interestingly, the complaintants in many of these are businesses who themselves were once the subject of inquiries and investigations regarding monopolistic actions.