Google fined in South Africa for anti-competitiveness

The Competition Commission of South Africa has found that Google’s dominance in internet search in the country “distorts platform competition” in favour of large market players.

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The commission has recommended several remedies to counter this, including:

  • Google must introduce a new platform sites unit (or carousel) to display smaller South African platforms relevant to the search (for example, travel platforms in a travel search) for free and augment organic results with a content-rich display.
  • Google must also introduce a South African flag identifier and South African platform search filter to aid consumers in identifying and support local platforms in competition to global ones.
  • Google must provide R180-million in advertising credits for small platforms to use in customer acquisition, along with free training to optimize advertising campaigns.
  • Google must also provide R150-million in training, product support and other measures for small and medium enterprises as well as black-owned online firms to offset the “competitive disadvantages faced on Google Search”.

The commission found that Google’s dominance in search gives it an unfair advantage over smaller platforms, as it can more easily influence where and how its own products and services appear in search results. This gives Google an unfair advantage in attracting customers and can make it difficult for smaller platforms to compete.

The commission’s recommendations are designed to level the playing field for smaller platforms and give them a better chance of competing with Google. The remedies are also designed to benefit consumers by giving them more choice and making it easier for them to find local platforms.

Google has not yet responded to the commission’s recommendations. However, the company has said in the past that it is committed to complying with the law and working with the commission to find ways to address the concerns raised in the report.

The commission’s findings and recommendations are significant because they could have a major impact on the online landscape in South Africa. If Google is forced to comply with the remedies, it will likely have to make significant changes to its business practices. This could open up new opportunities for smaller platforms and give consumers more choice.

The commission’s findings also send a message to other tech giants that they cannot abuse their market dominance. The commission is showing that it is willing to take action to protect competition and ensure that consumers have a fair choice of products and services.