The Commission and Consumer Protection Cooperation authorities, under the lead of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets and the Belgian Directorate General for Economic Inspection, have sent a letter to Google asking them to be more transparent and comply with EU law.
Consumers need to know how the results of their search in Google’s online search engine are ranked and if payments may influence the ranking. The prices of flights and hotels showcased on Google should be final and include fees or taxes that can reasonably be calculated in advance. In addition, Google should revise the standard terms of Google Store, because the Consumer Protection Cooperation network found that, in some cases, there is a significant imbalance of rights between the trader and the consumer to the detriment of the latter. Furthermore, when the Consumer Authorities report content in breach of consumer protection rules, Google should remove or disable access to such content faster.
EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said:
“EU consumers cannot be misled when using search engines to plan their holidays. We need to empower consumers to make their choices based on transparent and unbiased information.”
Google is expected to follow up and communicate changes in its practices to the Commission and the CPC authorities within the next two months. The Commission will support national consumer authorities in evaluating the response from Google, taking into account any commitments to modify their websites and services.
If the commitments made by Google are not deemed sufficient, a follow-up dialogue will take place. National authorities may ultimately decide to impose sanctions. You will find more information here.