Google earlier this week launched “Search Plus Your World,” a new personalized search which has segments of the tech world in an uproar for favoring Google’s own services over its competitors.
On Thursday, January 12, afternoon, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission requesting regulators to investigate Google’s “Search plus Your World.”
The EPIC complaint alleges that the new Search Plus feature shows favoritism towards Google’s own social network and violates Google+ users’ privacy. In addition to the concerns related to brand favoritism, EPIC concerns is that the Search Plus update may violate the privacy of Google+ users. The letter stated that the new feature makes users’ personal data more accessible and complains that Google+ users cannot currently opt out of having personal information found through Google search.
“Google’s changes implicate concerns over whether the company prioritizes its own content when returning search results. Incorporating results from Google+ into ordinary search results allows Google to promote its own social network by leveraging its dominance in the search engine market,” stated Marc Rotenberg, Epic’s ED, in the letter to FTC.
In addition to Twitter, who lashed out at Google, DuckDuckGo, Covario, AdMarketplace, Conductor and other talked about the calls for an antitrust investigation. Bing, meanwhile, has stayed out of the fray so far and declined to comment.
Blekko sees Google’s current position as an opportunity for other engines and the industry as a whole. “When you talk about antitrust and product innovation, we’ve launched our search engine a year ago and we’re seeing incremental growth every month. Since our last talk a month ago, our traffic continues to grow. It is possible to grow traffic and offer a good search product in spite of the dominance of Google. People do see the difference, they actually notice the difference in quality,” said Markson.
Google responded to the recent backlash regarding the update with the following statement:
“Our goal with search has always been to provide the most relevant results possible. That’s why for years we’ve been working on social search features to help you find the most relevant information from your social connections no matter what site it’s on. Search plus Your World doesn’t change who has access to content, it simply helps people rediscover information they already have access to. We’ve taken special care with our new features to provide robust security protections, transparency and control for our users.”
In other news, Indian High Court on Wednesday, January 11, warned the representatives of Facebook India, Google India, and Microsoft India, of repeating “China”, “if the companies failed to remove objectionable, and defamatory contents from their respective sites by Februray 6th (the deadline given to all social networking companies).” The Indian government on Thursday, January 13, asked the HC to prosecute social networking companies in the matter.