Of the latest legal battles Google is facing, the case of Foundem shopping comparison site claiming the search engine employed anti-competitive practices has an interesting update. And the tech world is waiting with bated breath as Google may be forced to reveal its most valued secret: details of its long-guarded search algorithm.
Google has a Wikipedia page devoted to its lawsuits. The tech giant has been taken to task on many different issues. These include contravention of privacy rights, claims of copyright infringements and even allegations of discrimination in the workplace. It’s a veritable laundry list of allegations.
This particular case between Foundem and Google investigates antitrust and anti-competition laws and practices. Did Google deliberately demote price comparison site Foundem to favor its own paid-for products?
The owners of the Foundem site, Adam and Shivaun Raff, began their legal proceedings against Google in 2012 and it’s been an ongoing case since. In 2017, Margrethe Vestager of The European Commissioner for Competition declared Google guilty of breaching EU antitrust laws and handed down a £2.1 billion fine with 90 days in which to rectify its practices. However, this respite was not enough.
The Raffs are still fighting for damages for the loss of their business as a result of being allegedly deliberately demoted in Google’s search results. The Foundem owners are adamant in their pursuit as while their business dropped (within a day) from first position on Google to somewhere between 70 and 80 position, they maintained their ranking between first and third on other search engines, such as Yahoo and Bing.
As the case has continued, Google has presented the court with confidential documentation to prove no anti-competitive practices were employed. However, Foundem believes it necessary to bring in an SEO expert, specifically Philipp Kloeckner, to explain the algorithm and how it ranks shopping comparison sites. Google has argued this action would irreversibly affect the integrity of its process. Foundem’s response was that the search engine giant may then withdraw the documents. But these documents are crucial for Google to have any defense in the matter at all.
And so an impasse has been reached …
It is a tough decision to make. Google and its representatives have maintained total silence on the matter. The judge has given the company a “reasonable” amount of time in which to make a decision and maintains if no decision is made, he will give the documents to Kloeckner for review. Google must decide if the algorithms for ranking search results remaining a secret is more important than proving it didn’t break any competition laws.
If Google search ranking algorithms are revealed, the SEO game is about to change dramatically and pave the way for a brand new set of rules.
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