Alberto Urso

Search algorithms and the boundaries of antitrust law and economics

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: antitrust, competition, abuse of dominance, multi-sided market, network externalities; search neutrality, anticompetitive foreclosure, search engines, search algorithms, unfair competition, misleading commercial practices.

The paper examines the conducts that are the object of the investigations for abuse of dominance brought against Google by the European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, with particular emphasis on the manipulation of natural search algorithms. Brought the relevant market within the category of two-sided platforms, the paper focuses on the nature of the product or service provided by the search engine through the delivery of results, that is to be qualified as an information. For this reason, the incidence of the alteration of the algorithms on consumer choice as well as the subsequent prejudice to competitors directly arise from the information given through the search results, rather than from a commercial behavior of the company. As a result such manipolative conduct, since it is not based on any commercial behavior capable of direct disturbance of market dynamics, does not involve any antitrust issues. As a consequence, other remedies are needed for the conduct under evaluation, the informative nature of which leads to make reference to unfair competition and detractive behaviors regulation to protect competitors, as well as to misleading commercial practices provisions in consumer protection.

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