Dutch EU lawmakers urge Google to place a cease on fraudulent adverts  – EURACTIV.com

Six Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have written to Google calling for motion after a criticism was launched in opposition to the corporate for permitting unfair business practices to be carried out through its advert bidding platform. 

Dutch broadcaster Radar lodged the criticism with police within the Netherlands final yr after an investigation discovered that providers equivalent to emergency plumbers have been paying to spice up their adverts on the search engine after which partaking in unfair commerce practices, together with overcharging prospects by as a lot as 10 occasions the market value. 

Regardless of being conscious of this, Radar says, Google continues to permit firms to promote. Following the revelations, a gaggle of influential MEPs wrote to Google’s Europe President Matt Brittin final yr however obtained no response. 

The six lawmakers have now contacted the chief once more on Monday (24 April), in a comply with up letter seen by EURACTIV that calls on the Google government to deal with the problem and element how the corporate intends to adjust to European legal guidelines regulating the digital area extra broadly. 


A 2022 investigation by Radar discovered that many firms utilizing Google’s advert platform, significantly these offering emergency providers, have been partaking in unfair business practices, typically at nice price to shoppers. 

The broadcaster discovered that these firms have been taking part in Google’s advert public sale system, bidding for increased rankings within the search engine, paying as a lot as €18 per click on. Radar alleges that Google is conscious of the truth that a few of these firms could also be scamming prospects however has not modified its coverage to sort out the problem.

As a part of the inquiry, Radar employed a plumber who ranked extremely in Google searches and used a hidden digital camera to reveal his deceptive practices, which included utilizing a value trick regarding the price of sure supplies, a tactic {that a} Dutch choose expressly outlawed in January 2022. 

Radar’s invoice got here to €2,000 for a 20-minute appointment, which the outlet says would usually have price round €200. The broadcaster lodged a criticism with the Dutch police however studies that police typically flip related efforts away, arguing that they’re civil somewhat than prison issues. 

Earlier this month, Radar once more raised the problem, saying that Google continues facilitating the practices. The Netherlands’ Client Affiliation has created a hotline for these impacted by such incidents and has mentioned it hopes that the nation’s Authority for Customers and Markets (ACM) will take motion in opposition to Google.

The ACM has mentioned it’s partaking in discussions with the tech large to minimise the commercial of rogue emergency providers, however it’s troublesome to deal with. Google, for its half, has mentioned that it takes the problem significantly and initiates motion in opposition to violations when they’re found. 

Brussels’ involvement

In October final yr, MEPs adopted up on the problem by writing to Matt Brittin, President of Google EMEA, elevating considerations about the usage of deceptive promoting practices on the corporate’s platform. 

Nonetheless, the lawmakers obtained no reply. On Monday once more wrote to the enterprise government in regards to the difficulty and “the impression of dishonest and malicious promoting on shoppers and the general promoting ecosystem.” 

The letter’s signatories are Jeroen Lenaers, Tom Berendsen, Kim van Sparrentak,  Catharina Rinzema, Sophie in ‘t Veld and Paul Tang, Dutch MEPs from the 4 primary political households of the European Parliament. 

The MEPs took word of Google’s engagement with the Dutch ACM. Nonetheless, they regretted that the response doesn’t account for considerations raised of their preliminary letter concerning offering readability and help to prospects who’ve been compelled to pay exorbitant sums or waive legal responsibility for harm or who’ve been scammed by untrained tradesmen. 

This week’s letter requires extra motion on the corporate’s half to forestall such fraudulent practices from occurring and an in depth response on how the corporate intends to completely adjust to broader European laws regulating the digital area, together with the Digital Companies Act and Digital Markets Act. 

Google didn’t reply to EURACTIV’s request for remark by the point of publication.

[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/Nathalie Weatherald]

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