Google Job Search Prompts Antitrust Complaint

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Job search websites complain to European regulators and seek Google job listing halt during probe

Google is once more facing possible antitrust issues after 23 European job listing websites filed a complaint with the European Union competition commission.

For two years now Google has placed a large widget at the top of results for searches such as “IT jobs” in most of the world, Reuters reported.

This, argues the European job websites, gives Google an unfair advantage as Google is using its search domination to lure job hunters to its listings, whilst avoiding the investments that traditional job listing websites are required to make in order to establish themselves.

Antitrust complaint

Reuters reported that Google’s actions has allowed its to unfairly grow its job listing business and cost traditional job listing websites both users and profits.

It reported that a letter has been sent by 23 job search websites in Europe to European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday. The letter, seen by Reuters, called on Vestager to temporarily order Google to stop playing unfairly while she investigates.

The Google job tool works in a similar manner to other job listing websites. It links posts gathered from many different businesses advertising jobs, and job hunters can filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply for the job itself.

Vestager, who has been examining job search on Google, leaves office 31 October. But a person familiar with the review told Reuters that Vestager is preparing an “intensive” handover so that her successor does not drop it. Her office declined to comment on the handoff.

If no action is taken, it is reported that the job listing websites could file official complaints about Google and its job listing tool.

Formal complaints have apparently already been received by Berlin-based StepStone GmbH, and another German search service.

Welcome feedback

Nick Zakrasek, senior product manager for Google search, was quoted by Reuters as saying that the company welcomed the industry feedback on jobs search.

Google said its offering addresses previous antitrust complaints by allowing rival search services to participate and includes a feature in Europe designed to give rivals prominence.

“Any provider – from individual employers to job listing platforms – can utilize this feature in search, and many of them have seen a significant increase in the number of job applications they receive,” Zakrasek reportedly said in a statement. “By improving the search experience for jobs, we’re able to deliver more traffic to sites across the web and support a healthy job search ecosystem.”

Other actions

Google has apparently been contending with similar accusations from companies in local business and travel search for recent years.

In March this year Google was fined 1.49bn euros (£1.3bn) for its AdSense advertising service, after the European Commission accused Google of utilising restrictive clauses in its AdSense contracts with third-party websites, which prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites between 2006 and 2016.

Google in 2017 was also fined 2.4bn euros (£2.01bn) after the Commission ruled that Google had thwarted rivals of shopping comparison websites.

Then in July 2018 the European Commission fined Google a record 4.3 billion euros (£3.83bn) for commercial practices related to its Android mobile operating system, the world’s highest ever antitrust penalty.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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