Google is still abusing its purchasing power • The Register

A group of European comparison shopping services (CSS) says Google failed to live up to the terms of a 2017 settlement that required it to be fairer to competitors. The coalition now wants the EU antitrust authorities to force Google to act.

The letter to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager was signed by 43 companies across the EU, claiming that despite Google being hit with the record-breaking €2.4 billion antitrust fine five years ago ($2.3 billion). US dollars) has changed little.

“Having suffered first-hand from Google’s failure to ensure equal treatment in general search results pages, since 2017 we have been requesting formal action against Google’s failure to comply with the … decision,” the companies write in the letter The registry has seen in full but does not have permission to publish.

Google’s subtle and allegedly continued behavior focuses on Google Shopping, the company’s proprietary CSS. In 2017, EU antitrust authorities said the service was used to favor Google’s own results while downgrading the services of competitors such as those of Kelkoo Group, Germany’s Idealo, Sweden’s PriceRunner and other signatories to the letter.

According to the letter to Vestager, EU CSS companies claim that Google has done little to comply with the rules, choosing instead to build a network of CSS partners who act as facilitators for Google to lower its own prices other names to Google Shopping users appear as if the Google ads were full of prices from other comparison services.

“93 percent of the offers in Shopping Units come from companies that do not compete with Google in any relevant comparison shopping market, but have become pure Google Shopping Ads resellers who buy them on behalf of low-profit merchants,” the brief argues .

While the letter pleads for EU antitrust authorities to take action to enforce parts of the 2017 decision they claim were unenforced, the letter conveys the belief that Google’s alleged violations provide a perfect test case for the Enforcement of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) represent two antitrust laws recently passed by the EU.

The DMA comes into effect in 2023, forcing “gatekeepers” like Google, who control access to major online markets, to grant fair and open access to smaller companies that could be seen as competitors.

“We have been patiently awaiting the court’s approval of the court [2017] decision and the DMA’s ban on self-preference,” the letter writers said. “Given the clear new legal framework [of the DMA]it is now time to speak up.”

Google has tried and failed to vacate its 2017 fine, but that’s not even the biggest of its European antitrust problems right now: Last month, joint lawsuits in the UK and EU claimed Google owed publishers “billions of euros” through anti-competitive behaviour withhold behavior. The company behind this latest lawsuit was also behind a case brought in France last year in which Google was fined €220m (£189m) for abusing its authority over publishers. ® Google is still abusing its purchasing power • The Register

Rick Schindler

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