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Google has been accused of making it harder to search for rivals



Google is reportedly exploring the possibility of charging users for access to "premium" internet search results driven by artificial intelligence (AI), a recent report reveals.

Google has been accused of abusing its market dominance to make it harder to look for a competing email service.

Tuta Mail – which says it has more than ten million users worldwide – claims it has not featured prominently in Google searches for ‘encrypted email’ since March.

The company has filed a complaint with the EU, claiming that Google – which has its own hugely popular Gmail service – has damaged a rival company.

Google has denied the accusation, insisting that Tuta remains “easily accessible” through its search engine.

In his complaint, Tuta notes that his “ranking” — no matter how high it appears in Google search results — dropped dramatically in March 2024 for searches like “secure email.”

As a result, monthly visits to pages on its website have fallen by almost 90%, Tuta’s formal complaint to the EU claims.

“In early March 2024, Google suddenly stopped serving our website for thousands of keywords,” it wrote in the complaint.

After the change, traffic to the website only came from searches that mentioned the name of the products.

“Google must immediately stop this unfair restriction on showing our website in search results,” said Matthias Pfau, co-founder of Tuta Mail.

Google’s algorithm uses a number of external factors to determine the ranking of search results. When the algorithm is updated, it could have a major impact on businesses that rely on the visits that search sends to their websites.

There was an update at the beginning of March, which caused Google to warn that there would be more fluctuations in the rankings than normal.

But it denies that the updates are intended to favor any particular website, including its own.

“Search ranking updates are absolutely not intended to favor Google products or any other specific website. The email provider in question is easily accessible worldwide via Search,” Google wrote.

Gmail has more than a billion users worldwide. Tuta argues that “niche” email services like his won’t be able to grow into serious competitors if they don’t show up for common search terms.

In a blog post, external it accused the company of violating a new EU law that came into effect in March and designated some major companies, including Google, as “gatekeepers” subject to additional legal restrictions.

This means, among other things, that they may not treat their own services more favorably than those of competitors.

“Google, in its role as gatekeeper, affects the profits and marketability of our private email service Tuta Mail – a direct competitor to Google’s Gmail, in violation of the Digital Markets Act,” the company wrote.

But according to a Google spokesperson, Tuta ranks above Gmail for a range of email-related searches, including searches that don’t mention it as a brand and searches that reference it in its blog.