The European Consumer Organisation has stepped up its involvement in the European Commissionâs antitrust investigation into how Google Inc. puts its preferred services atop search results while demoting rivals, particularly in price comparison searches. Currently an âinterested partyâ, essentially having observer status, BEUC has today applied to be a formal complainant.
The European Commission has recently signalled its willingness to settle on the basis of Googleâs suggested remedies, but BEUC believes consumer concerns have not been suitably addressed.
Commenting, Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation said:
âAdequate answers have not been found to the problem of Google stacking its search results as suits itself. Users are given the impression their searches are neutrally decided and this problem is exacerbated in price comparison searches. That is why we are becoming formally involved in this process. European consumers deserve a better outcome, the remedies currently proposed by Google do not meet usersâ legitimate expectations.â
âThe placement of three rival services beside Googleâs preferred results is not yet merit-based and so they are not neutral. Such stacking will lead to broader problems for the market further down the line. This kind of online real estate does not come cheap, so affording Google too much discretion to decide who is a ârival serviceâ is weighted in favour of those with the greatest commercial clout. â
âClearly the issue requires further examination. EU antitrust rules are there to protect fairness within the European Single Market. It is critical that a solution recognises a ânon-discrimination principleâ and does its utmost to allow users to get back to searching, not being led.â