Google rivals ask EU regulators to stop shady search practices

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The backlash against Google is growing on both sides of the Atlantic.

A group of 165 companies and industry bodies are calling on the European Union’s antitrust enforcers to crack down on the search giant, accusing it of using its market dominance to favor its own services on web searches.

The group, which includes companies across 21 European countries as well as the US and UK, sent a letter to Europe’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager on Thursday describing Google as a company that gives its own job search and travel planning portals prime placement on its search result page at the expense of smaller competitors.

“While we compete amongst ourselves for the best consumer experience, there is one common competitor that does not compete fairly – Google,” the letter obtained by Reuters reads, adding: “Google artificially keeps users within its own service and prevents them from visiting competing, more relevant services.”

Specifically, the group takes issue with Google’s use of OneBoxes, which are snippets of information and images placed in the prime real estate at the top of the search results page. It is often a way for local businesses to get more visibility.

The signatories have asked Vestager to put a stop to Google’s practices in order to create a more equal playing field.

The group claims that it is the largest-ever to speak to the EU’s competition chiefs with a unified voice. Signatories include Yelp, Expedia and Trivago, Reuters reports.

Another notable name is Foundem, whose complaint three years ago resulted in $9.7 billion in fines against Google after the company was found to be abusing its market power to favor its shopping comparison business, as well as its Android operating system and ads business.

Google has consistently denied accusations of favoritism, saying that it doesn’t force search users to select its products, and that competitors are just a click away on the internet.

“People expect Google to give them the most relevant, high quality search results that they can trust,” a Google representative told Reuters. “They do not expect us to preference specific companies or commercial rivals over others, or to stop launching helpful services which create more choice and competition for Europeans.”

The European Commission said it had received the letter and would reply in due course. It added that it monitored the market carefully to assess the effectiveness of remedies offered for Google Shopping.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.

With Post wires

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