Google is fined 1 million euros for ‘misleading classification’
The internet giant Google was sanctioned this Monday in France with a fine of 1.1 million euros for deceptive commercial practices, after have created and displayed a hotel star rating based on your own criteria and algorithms in parallel to the official rating.
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“We have compromised with the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF) and we have made the necessary modifications to reflect only the French classification of hotels in search engines and Google maps,” a spokesperson for the company that specified that it is not a conviction but a deal.
In France, the stars of the hotels are awarded by the State-controlled Tourism Development Agency (Atout). In 2019, the Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation after the deposition of several complaints by hoteliers who criticized a misleading classification of tourist accommodation.
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The DGCCRF investigation “has demonstrated the misleading nature of the hotel classification by Google, particularly in its search engine,” said the entity in a statement sent to the French press on Monday.
It has demonstrated the misleading nature of the hotel rankings by Google, in particular in its search engine
In the note, the Directorate for the Repression of Fraud indicates that Google Ireland and Google France have corrected their practices and that after an agreement with the Paris Prosecutor’s Office they have agreed to pay 1.1 million euros in compensation.
According to research, in 30% of the cases the Google index shown in the search engine, in map applications and in its hotel reservations section, did not correspond to the star rating established by Atout.
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Since September 2019, Google has restored Atout’s star order on its server, instead of its own formed from “personal criteria”, according to the investigation, which denounces a particularly harmful practice for consumers and misleading about the benefits that they can expect from an accommodation.
According to Google, before said change, the classification reflected a score attributed based on various information from third parties and available onlinewhereas now they are based solely on information from Atout.
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The American giant had to pay 150 million euros in December 2019 for imposing opaque rules on its advertisers in the search engine by abusing its dominant position in the market. It also had to pay almost one billion euros to close a tax dispute that was open in France for irregularities in corporate tax between 2011 and 2014, a figure that the French government considered “record.”
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