Google? Great firm, lovely people, says Microsoft-backed ICOMP

Outfit will now do, er, privacy and stuff. Yeah. That thing

A Google-bashing industry group backed by Microsoft says its Google-bashing days are over.

In a blog post from last week, ICOMP confirmed that it was changing its focus:

While we continue to monitor the Commission’s Google investigation, we are aligning our focus to evolving interests of our membership.

ICOMP now focuses on privacy, security and IP.

Not everyone is happy. Price comparison site Foundem has confirmed it has left the Microsoft-backed trade group, whose name is short for the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace. Details of Foundem's resignation letter, dated December 2nd, leaked this week.

Foundem was the first UK startup to go public, in 2009, with details of what it says are anti-competitive actions by Google. Google made Foundem “disappear” from its organic search results. Foundem has an ongoing complaint lodged with the European Commission.

In a letter to the group, Foundem stated:

In our view, an ICOMP that is prohibited from commenting on Google’s immensely damaging business practices is an ICOMP working against, rather than for, the interests of a fair, competitive online marketplace. As a leading complainant in the European Commission’s ongoing competition investigation into Google’s search manipulation practices, Foundem cannot be a member of an organisation that has turned its back on such an important issue.

Microsoft has toned down its anti-Google rhetoric since Satya Nadella took the CEO’s reins, parking its aggressive 'Scroogled' attack ads from a couple of years ago. The ads served to draw a line between Google’s consumer behaviour processing and Microsoft’s alternatives.

Ironically, suing Google for anti-competitive behaviour just got a lot more difficult for British tech startups, thanks to the higher legal hurdle set by Justice Roth in the Google vs Streetmap High Court judgment handed down last Friday. ®

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