Google Warned By French Regulators On AdWords Transparency

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Google faces a new regulatory battle after French antitrust authorities Wednesday accused the Mountain View, Calif. company of lack of transparency in the paid-search advertising service AdWords.

Autorité de la Concurrence's preliminary ruling states this is the first time Google has been considered to misuse its dominant position in Europe by suspending Navx's AdWords account without warning. It gave Google's search engine four months to clarify its position. Google owns about 90% of the searches in France, according to the ruling.

The filing came from a complaint filed in February by Navx, a French company that provides data on the location of road traffic and gas prices, and other services related to GPS devices. The ruling also asks Google to restore within five days following the notification of its decision Navx's AdWords account.

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Navx claims that it did not provide the devices, but rather data tied to the location of the cameras used to catch speeding cars. Sixty percent of Navx's business disappeared overnight when it was barred from AdWords and the company had to lay off 12 employees, according to the Financial Times.

Three specialist search companies filed separate antitrust complaints this year against Google with the European Commission, related to the way they were ranked on Google's search engine and the prices they were charged for advertising on AdWords, the FT reports.

This year has been challenging for Google. The company touts transparency, but also faces separate scrutiny by data privacy authorities in France and Germany for "unknowingly" intercepting data from private wireless networks while taking photographs for its Street View location services.

Google expects a "positive outcome" from the accusations against AdWords raised by the antitrust regulator in France.

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