Airlines, hotels, retailers fear being left out in Google's search changes

SuchTV  |  May 26, 2024

These groups, including Airlines for Europe (representing Air France KLM and IAG), hotel groups Hotrec and European Hotel Forum, as well as retail associations, are concerned that Google's compliance measures may inadvertently benefit large online platforms at their expense.

“Our industries have serious concerns that currently considered solutions and requirements for implementing the DMA could further increase discrimination,” the groups wrote in a joint letter to EU regulators dated May 22nd.

They argue that proposed changes, while aimed at increasing user choice, could hinder their direct sales by giving preferential treatment to powerful intermediaries. “Initial observations indicate that these changes risk severely depleting direct sales revenues of companies by giving more prominence to powerful online intermediaries due to the preferential treatment they would receive,” they warned.

The DMA, designed to curb anti-competitive practices by tech giants like Google, is currently under scrutiny as the EU investigates potential breaches. These smaller businesses, echoing concerns voiced in March, fear that the investigation focuses solely on fair treatment for third-party services, overlooking their direct offerings on platforms like Google Search.

“We are concerned that the non-compliance investigation refers only to the need to treat third-party services in a fair and non-discriminatory manner, without any acknowledgement of European businesses that also offer their services on Google,” the groups stated.

Google, which acknowledged in March that its search result adjustments could drive more traffic to large intermediaries, has yet to respond to the groups' latest concerns.

The EU Commission, spearheading the DMA implementation and investigation, has also not issued a statement. This brewing conflict highlights the complexities of regulating Big Tech and ensuring that compliance efforts don't inadvertently stifle competition from smaller players.

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