French politicians may not be going on a vendetta against Google after all. In April, the French Senate voted two very tough amendments aimed at Google. Part of Emmanuel Macron‘s economy bill, these amendments were supposed to force the tech giant to disclose how its famous search ranking algorithm works and advertise for competitors on its homepage.
Now, the very broad economy bill is back to the lower chamber (the Assemblée Nationale) for another round of amendments and a new vote. Next INpact reports that a few members of the parliaments have drafted new amendements to make the previous Google amendments obsolete.
As a reminder, Google holds a 90 percent market share of the search market in France. The Government was against the Senate amendments in the first place, arguing that these competition issues should be tackled by the European Commission, not French institutions. In particular, Macron couldn’t understand why Google should advertise for Bing or Yahoo Search on its homepage just because the company is very successful in France.
But Senate member Catherine Morin-Desailly told the Financial Times that there is a risk with Google’s secret algorithm, and that the company is promoting its own products above competitive products in its search results.
Yet, the EU competition commissioner already led a three-year long antitrust investigation to figure out whether Google was favoring its own vertical products and services in its search results. This case was settled in 2013.
It’s unclear whether Senate members thought that Google didn’t tweak its search results enough or whether Google had moved back to promoting its own products. Now, National Assembly members will vote for all the amendments one by one before voting for the entire bill again. Earlier this year, the French government had to resort to a controversial veto to get it past the National Assembly the first time. Once again, discussions on this law should be very intense.