To paraphrase my coworker who pointed me to the stories this morning, "It's not a good day to be Google."
On the heels of user ire regarding privacy issues presented by Buzz, the company's new social networking platform, Google has been hit with antitrust charges in Europe, three of its executives were convicted of privacy violations in Italy, and it canceled a NexusOne event in China.
According to Bloomberg, the European Commission hasn't launched a formal investigation yet, but it has received complaints of unfair competition from three different European companies -- Foundem, a U.K. price comparison site, a Microsoft business unit called Ciao for Bing, and a legal search engine in France called eJustice. One expert quoted in the story says the EU antitrust regulators are not to be dismissed or waived away. They "really sink their teeth into" a case in which they find merit.
The EC told Bloomberg:
The commission has not opened a formal investigation for the time being. As is usual when the commission receives complaints, it informed Google earlier this month and asked the company to comment on the allegations.
As for the convictions in Italy, it seems none of the three executives will do jail time since Italy automatically suspends sentences less than three years. Nonetheless, the court found that David Drummond, Google's senior vice president and chief legal officer; Peter Fleischer, Google's chief privacy counsel; and George Reyes, the company's former chief financial officer, violated privacy laws for allowing a 2006 video of students bullying their autistic schoolmate to air.
Critics say the ruling sets a bad example because the executives "didn't have any control over the parties to the underlying dispute."
Though canceling the NexusOne event in Beijing doesn't seem like much in comparison, it does add to the headache. It's the second time in recent weeks the resident search giant has threatened to pull out of China.