Google Faces Criticism for Search Adjustments Amid Upcoming EU Ban on Self-Preferencing

Google's recent modifications to its search results in the European Union are being trialed in anticipation of the March 7 enforcement. This action is in response to the self-preferencing ban under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which has sparked significant backlash from the online travel agency eDreams Odigeo.

Google is testing changes to its search results, especially for travel queries, ahead of new EU rules that aim to prevent tech giants from favoring their own services. These changes have caused a stir, particularly with eDreams Odigeo. The agency has called for more action from EU regulators as the Digital Markets Act (DMA) comes into effect on March 7, targeting companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft.

These companies, known as DMA gatekeepers, are supposed to follow specific rules to ensure fair competition. Not complying could mean hefty fines, up to 10% of their annual turnover. For big tech firms, these fines could be in the billions.

Recently, a group of travel companies, including eDreams, AirBnb, and, expressed dissatisfaction with Google’s approach to these new rules. They feel Google's proposed changes are insufficient. Similarly, the EU Tech Alliance, representing various tech sectors, has criticized the lack of engagement by these large companies in drafting compliance plans.

The main issue eDreams has with Google’s current changes is that they believe Google still favors its own services. Guillaume Teissonnière from eDreams points out that Google’s new search features, like simplified flight information under the search bar, still give an edge to Google’s services. He argues that this isn't in line with the DMA’s aim to level the playing field.

eDreams is also concerned about how Google uses data from third parties in its search results, which could be another violation of DMA rules. They have noticed that Google might be ranking its own services and products, like Google Flights, higher than before in search results.

Google, on its part, has said it’s trying to balance the DMA’s requirements with maintaining choices for consumers and businesses in Europe. They claim that the changes, including how Google Flights appears in search results, are based on relevance and not preferential treatment.

The European Commission, responsible for enforcing the DMA, has not commented on these specific issues. Google insists it is committed to complying with the DMA and continues to work with the Commission on finding solutions.

Photo: Digital Information World - AIgen/HumanEdited

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