European Union Gives Google Ultimatum On Travel Price Transparency

The European Union has given Google an eight-week ultimatum to make its travel-related search more transparent or the Silicon Valley technology giant could face consequences, Reuters reported on Monday, July 26, citing regulators from the EU and European Commission.

“EU consumers cannot be misled when using search engines to plan their holidays. We need to empower consumers to make their choices based on transparent and unbiased information,” said EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, per the news outlet.

The issue at hand concerns pricing and search ranking for hotels and airfare. Officials are concerned that the final prices shown don’t clearly show all fees and taxes. The reference prices used to figure out discounts are also not clearly shown, Reuters reported, citing a joint statement from the EU executive and national consumer watchdogs, led by the Dutch agency and the Belgian Directorate General for Economic Inspection.

“We welcome this dialogue and are working closely with consumer protection agencies and the European Commission to see how we can make improvements that will be good for our users and provide even more transparency,” Google said in a statement, per the news outlet.

This is not the first time that Alphabet’s Google has been eyed by antitrust and other regulators, not only in Europe, but worldwide. The most widely used search engine across the map has also been hit with big penalties over the way it conducts business. 

Europe’s General Court in Luxembourg will hear Google’s challenge on November 10 to the US$2.8 billion antitrust penalties imposed by the EU. Google was hit by the penalty in 2017 over allegations stemming from eCommerce search competition.

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