FairSearch brings its anti-Google campaign to Europe, uses old Microsoft foe to lead operations
The launch comes some 15 months after Fairsearch was first unveiled in the US, with FairSearchEurope now bringing the fight for “fair competition in online search” to the attention of Europeans, claiming that its concerns about supposed abuses of market power “aren’t limited to the US”.
Whilst the latest announcement did not specifically mention a particular search engine, FairSearch has only ever had one company in its sights: Google (especially as one of its early members was Microsoft).
Fairsearch has also, pretty much since it failed to overturn Google’s acquisition of ITA, winning just a handful of concessions to the deal, widened its focus to include other sectors alongside travel.
The group has had European members, including Foundem (joining a few months after the launch) and, more recently, Twenga and Buscapé, but has so far failed to attract any of the big European travel companies not under US ownership.
Expedia, Travelocity and TripAdvisor were founding members alongside search site Kayak. Having a new and dedicated focus on European issues may change that.
High profile lawyer and Brussels-based Thomas Vinje will represent the coalition as its “European Counsel”.
“Search is where people enter the Internet, looking for cultural and commercial information. In addition to general search engines such as Google, consumers use specialized search engines to help them find flights, hotels, restaurant reviews, shopping deals and directions.
“Companies that run these specialized sites are creative and some have tailored their listings to add consumer feedback or to help people find things locally.”
Leopards can change their spots, of course, with FairSearch member Microsoft being no stranger to Vinje.
He was, ironically, once a significant thorn in the side of the software giant when he spent the best part of 16 years fighting against what was known as, well, anticompetitive practices in Europe.
FairSearch may also find an ally in ETTSA, the European body representing the GDSs, which has also raised concerns about Google’s entry into travel and if the European Union Code of Conduct overseeing the role of airfare distribution should be modified as a result.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.