Google is having a bad week in Europe.
David Drummond, the search engine’s chief legal officer, was convicted along with two other execs in Italy today. The charges? Violating the privacy of a disabled boy because a video of him was posted on Google Video, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According the story, Drummond was sentenced to six months in jail, but any sentence under three years is automatically suspended. Does it mean Drummond won’t get to take vacations to Venice anymore?
It hardly needs to be said that the conviction wouldn’t fly in most of the world where web sites aren’t normally held responsible for what gets posted on them.
But there’s more.
Yesterday, the European Union opened an antitrust investigation into Google, the company confirmed in a blog posting. The investigation is a response to complaints from European competitors who claim they’re being given unfairly low rankings in Google search results. The competitors are UK price comparison site, Foundem, a French legal search engine called ejustice.fr, and Microsoft's Ciao! from Bing, Google said.
Antitrust concerns have swirled around Google because of its huge market share in search advertising. US authorities have yet to open an investigation into the company, but put a stop to a partnership with Yahoo last year because of Google’s “monopoly” in search advertising.
A few small competitors in the U.S. have sued Google over unfair competition. The latest, as noted in a very intriguing blog post by Santa Clara Law prof Eric Goldman, is myTriggers.com. After Google sued the tiny shopping search engine for not paying its ad bills, myTriggers.com fired back that Google unfairly bills its “competitors.”
Strangely, Goldman notes, the lawyers who took the case work at Cadwalader. That’s the same firm that does antitrust work for Google competitor Microsoft and is also representing another small Google competitor in a similar suit. Hmm.