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Google caught slamming eBay to ACCC?

Australia's ongoing PayPal saga has taken another turn today with the news that an anonymous submission sent to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) opposing eBay's exclusive deal with the payment provider was authored by Google.
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Written by Marcus Browne on

Australia's ongoing PayPal saga has taken another turn today with the news that an anonymous submission sent to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) opposing eBay's exclusive deal with the payment provider was authored by Google.

Details of the "anonymous" submission emerged over the weekend after online traders forum, Auctionbytes, published a blog questioning the identity of the 38-page submission's author.

Google's involvement was uncovered when Australian reader David Bromage posted a comment on the blog featuring metadata remnants extracted from the document — which was previously available on the ACCC's website but has now been removed — indicating it was written and sent by the search giant.

Bromage revealed that a small file-naming oversight had allowed him to retrieve the identity of the document's author.

"It wasn't difficult to work out who wrote the submission," he said in the post. "Buried down in the metadata you find ... Microsoft Word - 204481916_1_ACCC Submission by Google re eBay Public _2_.DOC."

The Canberra resident, a self-described "small time buyer and seller on eBay" told ZDNet.com.au today: "It was not my intention to cause any embarassment to Google or the ACCC, even though the identifying information was left inadvertently on the public register."

"I fully support the arguments and conclusions in the 'anonymous'submission and the hundreds of other submissions opposing eBay's proposed conduct."

The submission itself asserts that an exclusive arrangement between eBay and PayPal will increase transaction costs for users, give PayPal an unfair advantage in the marketplace, and generally lower the quality of PayPal's service as it "will have little incentive to innovate, improve its product offering, or provide better quality customer service and support once it has secured a 'captive market' of online sellers on the eBay site".

A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

eBay's Australian offices followed suit, with a spokesperson for the auction giant saying they had nothing to add "as it's really a matter between the ACCC and Google".

News of Google's involvement comes after Sensis launched an online auction service attached to its Trading Post website last week, offering a number of payment methods as part of the service in direct response to eBay's move to use PayPal exclusively.

The ACCC is expected to hand down its decision on the eBay-PayPal announcement by the end of this month.

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