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A radical idea for Google’s DMA compliance: Focus on the user



Today, we were happy to be included in the kickoff workshop held by DMA officials to imagine how Google might comply with the Digital Markets Act, a new regulation which prohibits gatekeeper platforms from engaging in self-preferencing. For over a decade, Yelp has participated in regulatory proceedings and provided input on what an interoperable and non-discriminatory local search experience on Google might look like. 

As our Focus on the User campaign (originally launched in the EU in 2014) argues, it is technically trivial for Google to offer a search experience which simultaneously (a) encourages competition between third party services, (b) provides consumers with high quality results based on rich content, and (c) allows for rich features and innovation on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). 

In his remarks at today’s workshop, it was disappointing (but perhaps not surprising) to hear Google’s representative, Oliver Bethell, signal that Google is not going to engage in a good faith effort to comply with the DMA. Rather, we heard Google suggest there is no distinction between general search and vertical search services. It’s worth noting that this non-distinction was rejected by the European Commission’s Directorate General of Competition in the comparison shopping case; that case was then upheld on appeal. The subtext of Google’s suggestion is that the company intends to drag its feet and litigate as long as it can to avoid complying with the DMA.

We are heartened by commitments from EU officials that this DMA workshopping process is only a “kickoff,” and we hope to engage in more detailed, bilateral conversations between Google and local search providers like Yelp in the coming months.

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