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BEUC: "Consumers Have a Right To Receive Impartial Results"

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), an important advocate for the public, has written another letter to Joaquín Almunia, the Vice President of the European Commission in charge of the investigation of Google’s anti-competitive business practices. Click here for the full letter, which opens with:

“In our letter of March 19, 2012, we expressed concerns that Google may have abused its dominant position in the online search market by directing users primarily to its own services and secondly by reducing the visibility of competing websites and services. If substantiated by the investigation of your services, Google’s practices have harmed competition, misled European consumers and reduced consumer choice.”

BEUC’s letter goes on to eviscerate the logic behind Google’s reported proposal to simply label where it is biasing and manipulating the display of search results to more prominently display its own products:

“…it is important that the remedies focus on consumer welfare and are effective in terminating an anti-competitive behaviour and restoring competition. In this context, any remedy which is based on labelling would fail to pass such a triple test. Simply requiring Google to label its own vertical search services would not prevent the company from manipulating the search results and from discriminating against competing services…

“Consumers have a right to receive impartial results based exclusively on their relevance to their queries and without manipulation according to Google’s own commercial interests.”

In closing, BEUC writes:

“It is the duty of the European Commission to keep this vital infrastructure accessible, competitive and open and put an end to existing discriminatory practices…”

FairSearch could not agree more with these sentiments – the conflict of interest at the heart of Google’s business model, and the underpinning of its strategy to deceptively steer users to its own products and away from others, must be addressed by any resolution to the worldwide investigations into Google’s anticompetitive business and search practices.