Google is facing a regulatory crackdown in South Africa over its dominance in online search. The Competition Commission has concluded that Google’s search practices give an unfair advantage to larger market players, and has recommended a number of remedies aimed at improving the visibility of smaller South African companies in search results.
The Commission’s report found that Google’s practice of giving prominence to paid results in search results gives an unfair advantage to larger platforms with substantial marketing budgets. The report also found that Google’s use of algorithms to rank search results can disadvantage smaller companies that are not as well-known.
In response to the report, the Competition Commission has recommended that Google implement a number of remedies, including:
- Creating a new unit in its search results specifically designed to give greater prominence to smaller South African platforms.
- Making it easier for consumers to identify and support local platforms by adding a flag identifier and search filter for South African companies.
- Providing advertising credits and free training worth 180 million rand ($10.2 million) to help smaller platforms use Google’s paid search functions for customer acquisition.
- Allocating 150 million rand to enhance the performance of small and medium-sized enterprises and black-owned firms in organic search results.
Google has said that it is reviewing the report and will “work constructively” with the Competition Commission to address its concerns.
The Competition Commission’s report is the latest in a series of regulatory challenges facing Google in South Africa. In 2021, the Commission also opened an investigation into Google’s app store practices.
The regulatory crackdown in South Africa is part of a wider trend of governments around the world scrutinizing the power of tech giants. In recent years, Google has faced antitrust investigations in the United States, Europe, and India.
The Competition Commission’s report is a significant development in the regulatory scrutiny of Google in South Africa. The recommendations could have a major impact on how Google operates in the country, and could set a precedent for other jurisdictions.