New European Union guidelines released on Monday, December 7, ask that Google, Amazon, and other digital platforms provide an explanation about how search results are ranked.
“These guidelines set the standard for algorithmic ranking transparency and will increase fairness in the online platform economy, which drives innovation and welfare for millions of Europeans,” Margrethe Vestager, digital chief, EU, said in a European Commission statement.
“Transparency is the European way to go,” she said, adding that the new rules are being finalized “for all digital services to cooperate with regulators and for the biggest platforms to provide more information on the way their algorithms work.”
The guidelines indicate that online platforms should be asked to explain how their algorithms prioritize some results over others and that they should clearly state when a featured listing was paid for.
“Since businesses increasingly depend on digital solutions to reach consumers, their position in online search results can make it or break it,” said Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for internal market. “These guidelines will increase ranking transparency and allow businesses to compete fairly online in the EU single market.”
He added that these guidelines “will underpin the forthcoming Digital Markets Act,” which is intended to stop illegal activities before they happen.