Hotel and flight prices, reliability of reviews: Europe blames Google for lacking transparency

The European Commission is contacting Google to send it a series of requests in order to better comply with the law. In case of refusal, the American company could be exposed to sanctions.

This is a new point of contention between the European Commission and Google. In a statement published on July 26, the executive arm of the European Union said it was not satisfied with the way the American company applies European law. Also Brussels sent a letter to the company asking for changes and more transparency.

Insufficient transparency in the functioning of Google

The changes demanded by the European Commission relate to the results when Internet users inquire about the price of plane tickets and accommodation. ” The search engine is returning more and more direct sales offers in response to queries She observes. However, there are doubts about the neutrality of Google in the way in which search results are displayed.

In particular, the Commission calls for information intended for Internet users which will enable them to know the criteria for ranking the results and whether, among these factors, there are financial payments. As for the price displayed, it must correspond to the final amount that will be required at the time of payment, including as much as possible all taxes and fees that may be added as and when.

Public Hotel
The European Commission wants Google to explain how its Flights and Hotel services work. // Source: Public Hotels

The same transparency is required on the business model of Google Flights and Google Hotels. This would go through a clear and visible mention indicating the cases where Google ” acts as a direct or intermediary seller “. As for reviews, Google must ensure their reliability in order to avoid attempts at deception.

More generally, the letter sent by the Commission was an opportunity to point out what is also wrong with the way Google links its activities with the legislation. These include geo-blocking on its mobile application store, the neutralization of content identified as illegal by the consumer protection authorities and the general conditions of Google Play.

The letter, which is supported by the authorities responsible for cooperation in the field of consumer protection, was written at the instigation of two of them, in Belgium (the general direction of the economic inspection) and in the Netherlands. Low (authority for consumers and markets). Google has two months to respond to these requests, under penalty of possible sanctions.

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