Brazilian regulators are to investigate Google after claims by Microsoft and Brazilian search rivals that the firm is involved in anti-competitive practices.
Brazil's antitrust watchdog Cade said that it was looking into accusations that Google's search engine favours its own services over others, while Microsoft has claimed that Google has not allowed advertisers to run campaigns on multiple search engines.
"According to Microsoft, Google would have imposed restrictions that make it difficult for advertisers to manage their campaigns, both on Google and other search engine competitors, called multi-homing," Cade said.
The watchdog added that multi-homing helps to reduce the costs of assembling and managing campaigns across different platforms and search engines, and allows advertisers to compare the performance of each platform.
"By imposing restrictions onto the sharing of information in advertising platforms, Google would end up discouraging advertisers from also launching campaigns in competing search engines, thus harming the development of these competitors, which already hold little market share," Cade stated.
Complaints have also been brought forward by E-Commerce Media Group Informação e Tecnologia, which owns Brazilian e-commerce sites Buscapé and Bondfaro.
The company has accused Google of allowing Google Shopping to be the only price comparison tool that comes embedded with photos, prices and evaluations – enabling it to seem more attractive to online shoppers to use. The firm also alleges that Google favours its own themed sites in organic search results in preference to competing sites.
Furthermore, it accuses Google of "scraping" customer reviews of products and retailers from other price comparison sites including Buscapé and Bondfaro.
"According to the complaint, since the users' opinions about products and services add significant information and are an attractive tool for thematic searches for shopping, this practice would be subtracting Google competitive advantages held by such rivals and benefiting them," Cade explained.
Google is reportedly willing to cooperate with Brazilian authorities in the investigation.
Cade said that recent analysis of the online search market in Brazil has shown that Google has a near-99 per cent market share in the country. It said that if these allegations are proven it would mean that the entry and development of competitors in Brazilian online searches has been hindered.
Earlier this month, Google had seemingly relented in its long-running battle with the European Union over changing its search engine to more accurately reflect rival companies and services.
The EU's commissioner responsible for competition, Joaquin Almunia, suggested that the discussions had reached "a key moment", as Google had made a new offer with "significant improvements" to change its search methods.