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Google Accused of Hindering Rival's Search Visibility

Google accused of hindering search visibility for rival email service, Tuta Mail. Tuta Mail alleges a significant drop in search rankings for keywords like "secure email" since March 2024. Monthly visits to Tuta Mail's website reportedly decreased by almost 90%.

Google, the tech giant known for its dominant position in the search engine market, is facing accusations of using its market power to make it more difficult for users to find a rival email service. Tuta Mail, a company with over ten million users worldwide, claims that since March, its visibility in Google searches for "encrypted email" has significantly decreased.


In a formal complaint filed with the European Union, Tuta alleges that Google's actions have harmed its business and violated fair competition practices. However, Google has vehemently denied these allegations, stating that Tuta Mail remains easily accessible through its search engine.


Tuta's complaint highlights a sharp decline in its ranking on Google's search results page for keywords such as "secure email" since March 2024. As a result, the company claims that monthly visits to its website have plummeted by nearly 90%.


"At the beginning of March 2024, Google suddenly stopped displaying our website for thousands of keywords," Tuta stated in its complaint. The company further noted that after the change, traffic to its website only came from searches specifically mentioning its product names.


Matthias Pfau, co-founder of Tuta Mail, emphasised the need for Google to cease this alleged unfair limitation on their search visibility. "Google must stop this unfair limitation of showing our website in search results immediately," Pfau stated.


Google's search algorithm plays a crucial role in determining the ranking of search results. Updates to the algorithm can have a significant impact on businesses that rely on search engine traffic. While Google acknowledged an update in early March that could lead to fluctuations in rankings, it denies any intentional bias towards its own services or any specific website.


"Search ranking updates absolutely do not aim to preference Google products, or any other particular website. The email provider in question is easily accessible globally on Search," Google responded.

Tuta argues that niche email services like theirs cannot become serious competitors if they do not appear for common search terms. The company accused Google of violating a new EU law, the Digital Markets Act, which designates certain large firms, including Google, as "gatekeepers" subject to additional legal restrictions. These restrictions include treating their own services on an equal footing with rivals.


In response to Tuta's claims, a Google spokesperson stated that Tuta Mail ranks higher than Gmail for various email-related searches, even those that do not explicitly mention the brand.


As the accusations and denials continue, the outcome of Tuta's complaint to the EU remains uncertain. The case raises important questions about fair competition and the influence of dominant players in the digital market.

 
  • Google accused of hindering search visibility for rival email service, Tuta Mail.

  • Tuta Mail alleges a significant drop in search rankings for keywords like "secure email" since March 2024.

  • Monthly visits to Tuta Mail's website reportedly decreased by almost 90%.


Source: BBC

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