By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc hit back at News Corp on Thursday for calling it a platform for piracy and an "unaccountable bureaucracy," in a point-by-point rebuttal that stressed the Internet search company's commitment to fighting online crime.
In Google's official blog, Rachel Whetstone, head of global communications, defended the company's practices while taking a jab at News Corp-owned British tabloid The Sun.
In the post titled "Dear Rupert," referring to News Corp Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Whetstone said Google has invested tens of millions of dollars to battle piracy on its YouTube video website and removed 222 million web pages from its search engine last year due to copyright infringement.
Whetstone also defended Google's practice of ranking search results, denying that it was the "gatekeeper to the Web, as some claim."
Earlier this month, News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson wrote a letter to Joaquín Almunia, the European Commissioner for Competition, urging the commission to reconsider a settlement with Google over its search practices.
Thomson said Google was "willing to exploit its dominant market position to stifle competition."
Google, the dominant search engine in Europe, has been the target of a European Commission investigation since November 2010, when more than a dozen complainants, including Microsoft Corp, accused the company of promoting its own services at their expense.
Almunia, the outgoing antitrust chief, said in May he wanted to close the case against the world's most popular Internet search engine before the end of his five-year term, but he recently announced that he would be unable to do so before he steps down next month.
Almunia's successor, former Danish economy minister Margrethe Vestager, who will take up her post in November, will have to decide whether to continue settlement talks with Google, charge the company or drop the case.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Richard Chang)