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  • Tech Journalist

Google to change search results for EU citizens in readiness for the Digital Markets Act

Google is gearing up for the introduction of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in Europe, set to take effect in March. The tech giant has unveiled a series of changes to its European operations in anticipation of this regulatory development.

One notable change involves modifying search results to prioritise comparison websites. Typically, when users search for items such as hotels or products, Google displays relevant information, including images and prices.

However, Google plans to introduce dedicated units that include links to comparison sites and query shortcuts at the top of the search page to refine searches.

In a blog post, Google stated, “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.”

For categories like hotels, Google will test a dedicated space for comparison sites and direct suppliers, showing more detailed individual results with images and star ratings.

Another significant change involves enhancing consent protocols for data sharing and introducing choice screens for browser selection on Android devices. Google also plans to provide a Data Portability API as part of these updates.

Moreover, Google will eliminate certain elements from its search page, including the Google Flights feature. This move complies with new regulations requiring Google to rank competing services and products on par with its offerings in search results.

There was a case in 2017 when Google had to pay a  €2.42 billion ($2.63 billion) fine to the EU for prioritising its own comparison-shopping service.

At the time, the EU's competition policy commissioner asserted that Google had abused its power as the most used search engine to put its service on top of competitors.

The changes in Google's operations aim to address these regulatory concerns and promote fair competition in the European market. However, the company says it could have negative consequences for businesses in the region.

“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.”

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