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The EU might help small businesses stand up to Google

The EU might help small businesses stand up to Google


Part of the European Union’s antitrust concerns

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Stop Motion by Michele Doying / The Verge

The European Union may soon require Google and other search engines to provide more information on their ranking algorithms and create a complaint process for those who believed they were unfairly demoted, according to the Financial Times. The requirements, featured in an unreleased proposal, are reportedly designed to level the playing field between tech giants and other businesses, which the agency believes might otherwise fear standing up to them.

The European Commission has been planning to regulate “online intermediation services,” according to the report, to make sure they aren’t abusing their dominant position. It’s not entirely clear how the commission will define these services, but it was apparently looking first at companies like Apple and Amazon, which work with developers and businesses through their stores, before recently expanding the category to include search engines.

European policymakers want to find ways to stop these tech giants from foisting unfair trading conditions onto companies they work with, rather than leaving policy decisions to individual member states. Companies like Apple and Google may hold “superior bargaining power over their business users,” according to the legal draft, and European authorities want to place more limits to prevent that.

If the draft were approved, search engines would be required to be more transparent about their ranking algorithms and disclose whether it’s possible to pay for a higher search result spot. In the event a search engine removes a company from search results, the engine would also need to give a clear statement of reasons to the company.

Last year, after a seven-year antitrust probe, the European Commission fined Google 2.4 billion euros for prioritizing its shopping service over competitors. Google is still appealing the fine.