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Post: Google implements key changes in Europe before new regulatory measures take effect



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Google has unveiled a range of changes to its European operations, as it gears up for the introduction of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the region, set to take effect in March.

This includes modifying search results to prioritize comparison websites, enhancing consent protocols for data sharing, introducing choice screens for browser selection on Android devices, and providing a Data Portability API.

The most significant of the changes could be providing prominence to comparison sites.

Typically, when users search for items such as hotels or products to purchase, Google displays relevant information within the search results, including images and prices. This would either appear as part of a single business listing — like a hotel or restaurant — or as a featured collection of relevant results.

Over the coming weeks in Europe, Google plans to change this.

“We will introduce dedicated units that include a group of links to comparison sites from across the web, and query shortcuts at the top of the search page to help people refine their search, including by focusing results just on comparison sites,” Google said in a blog post. “For categories like hotels, we will also start testing a dedicated space for comparison sites and direct suppliers to show more detailed individual results including images, star ratings and more.”

As part of these updates, Google will also be eliminating certain elements from its search page, including the Google Flights feature.

This marks a major shift in the search engine giant’s approach, which is now mandated by regulation to rank competing services and products on par with its own offerings in search results.

Notably, the EU had previously fined Google €2.42 billion ($2.63 billion) in 2017 for prioritizing its own comparison-shopping service. The bloc’s competition policy commissioner stated at the time that Google had misused its dominant position as a search engine by favoring its own service in search results to the detriment of its competitors.

While the latest development may be seen as a victory for comparison sites, Google has warned that the new rules could have adverse impacts on businesses.

“Over the last few months, we have been seeking feedback on our changes from the European Commission and from stakeholders like developers, advertisers, and companies who will be affected by them,” Google said. “While we support many of the DMA’s ambitions around consumer choice and interoperability, the new rules involve difficult trade-offs, and we’re concerned that some of these rules will reduce the choices available to people and businesses in Europe.”

Copyright © 2024 IDG Communications, Inc.

Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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