Get tough on Google now, 165 competitors urge the EU

2020-11-13

A group of 165 tech firms and industry bodies have written to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager urging the European authorities to speed up actions against with Google on competition issues.

The group includes companies and associations from 21 EU countries as well as the UK and the US, according to Reuters, and includes online directory Yelp, travel companies Expedia, Trivago and Foundem, shopping search engine Kelkoo and job site Stepstone.

In a letter sent on Thursday, the group accuses Google of unfairly promoting its own products and services in its search results, a long-running issue that has seen , and being fined a total of €8.25 billion in the last three years.

The signatories say they are particularly concerned about Google's use of OneBoxes, advertising units that appear at the top of Google's search results and which may be purchased by businesses to advertise services linked to the search terms, but which are also used by Google itself to promote its own jobs, travel, shopping and other services. They accuse Google of using these contextual ad slots to suppress competition by favouring its own services.

The EU is currently in the final stages of negotiating terms of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA), wide-ranging measures designed to tackle the dominance of large online platforms. The Acts are expected to target large US companies that are ', including Google, Facebook, Amazon and , as well as growing Chinese services such as WeChat which roll multiple services, including payments, into one app. The final proposals are due to be announced on December 2nd.

However, in their letter to Vestiger the 165 companies say the process of ratifying the DMA by member states, thought to be about a year, is too long and that by then Google may have cemented its dominance. They urge the EU to force Google to give rivals a better placement in its search results before then.

"Many of us may not have the strength and resources to wait until such regulation really takes effect," they write.

Vestager acknowledged receipt of the letter.

In October, in a leaked internal document, Google revealed it is planning to launch an aggressive campaign to counter the DMA and DSA, which among other rulings could force big tech firms .

Google faces probes on the other side of the Atlantic too, with against the company.