Google to tweak search results to comply with EU tech rules

Jan 17, 2024

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Alphabet’s Google will tweak online search results to give comparison sites more prominence, the company said in a blogpost on Wednesday, as it outlined efforts to comply with new EU tech rules that could hit revenues for some companies.

Under the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which the company will have to comply with by March 7, Google is obligated to treat rival services and products the same way as it treats its own when it ranks them in search results.

It is also required to allow business users to access the data that they generate when using Google’s platform.

“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 its blogpost.

“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. These changes will result in the removal of some features from the search page, such as the Google Flights unit,” it said.

Rival comparison sites have been among the most vocal critics of Google’s search practices, with a complaint last decade resulting in a 2.42-billion-euro ($2.63 billion) EU antitrust fine.

Other changes in the coming weeks will allow Android phone owners to easily switch their default search engine or browser and users of Google services and products to move their data to a third-party app or service.

European users will see an additional consent banner to ask them whether some Google services can continue to share data targeted ads.

Google warned that some businesses and users may not be happy with its proposals, which are still subject to changes ahead of March 7.

“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,” it said.

($1 = 0.9204 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter)

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