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Canadian agency drops probe of Google's competitive practices

Canada's Competition Bureau finds Google has already remedied the practices that prompted the agency's 2013 investigation, says a report.

Canadian penny for your thoughts, America?

The Competition Bureau of Canada said Tuesday that it's no longer investigating Google's competitive practices. The agency, akin to the Federal Trade Commission in the US, said Google had already taken steps to ease the agency's concerns. The story was first reported by Reuters and other news sources.

"We're pleased that the Canadian Competition Bureau has decided to end its inquiry," Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president and general counsel, said in an emailed statement. "We work hard in a competitive landscape to create a great experience for our users and help them quickly and easily find what they need from Google."

The agency had filed a legal motion in 2013, saying Google had been using its search dominance to unfair advantage in the markets for online search and search advertising, and gave "preferential treatment" to its own services such as Google Maps and Google Flights.

"Specifically, the Bureau examined allegations that Google engaged in several practices intended to raise its rivals' costs, inhibit their ability to expand and generally make it more difficult for them to compete," the regulator said in a statement. The agency did find that Google included anticompetitive clauses in the terms and conditions for AdWords, which businesses use to advertise on Google, but said the company removed those clauses and promised not to reintroduce them for five years.

While dropping its probe, the regulator said it will continue to follow "Google's ongoing conduct."

The Competition Bureau declined to comment beyond its official statement.