Google has released a trial tool which is concerning some net users because it directs people to pre-selected commercial websites.
The AutoLink feature comes with Google’s latest toolbar and provides links in a webpage to Amazon.com if it finds a book’s ISBN number on the site.
It also links to Google’s map service, if there is an address, or to car firm Carfax, if there is a licence plate.
Google said the feature, available only in the US, “adds useful links”.
But some users are concerned that Google’s dominant position in the search engine market place could mean it would be giving a competitive edge to firms like Amazon.
AutoLink works by creating a link to a website based on information contained in a webpage – even if there is no link specified and whether or not the publisher of the page has given permission.
If a user clicks the AutoLink feature in the Google toolbar then a webpage with a book’s unique ISBN number would link directly to Amazon’s website.
It could mean online libraries that list ISBN book numbers find they are directing users to Amazon.com whether they like it or not.