South Africa asks Google to enforce stricter rules for online sellers as inquiry investigates

South Africa wants Google to change how it displays its search results and it is also proposing stricter rules for online sellers. Online retails like Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Takealot, Booking.com, Airbnb, Mr. Delivery, Uber Eats, Property24, Private Property, Auto Trader, and Cars.co.za, along with Google by the inquiry.

South Africa wants Google to change how it displays its search results and it is also proposing stricter rules for online sellers. This initiated by South Africa’s Competition Commission’s inquiry into e-commerce

Over the past four months the inquiry investigated online retail, app stores, travel and accommodation platforms, food delivery and online classifieds. It focused on what was hindering competition, and how small businesses and black companies may be excluded.

Online retails like Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Takealot, Booking.com, Airbnb, Mr. Delivery, Uber Eats, Property24, Private Property, Auto Trader, and Cars.co.za, along with Google by the inquiry.

The inquiry on Wednesday released its provisional recommendations, which includes:

Reservation of the top of Google’s search pages for organic results with search results based on relevance only and not influenced by payments to Google.

The inquiry found that Google Search plays an important role in directing consumers to the different platforms, and shapes competition in South Africa. By listing paid-for search results at the top of pages, it is raising costs for sellers and these results also often favor large, often global platforms, the inquiry said.

“Price parity clauses, evident in travel and accommodation, eCommerce and food delivery, hinder competition and create dependency.”

The commission also found that differences in corporate tax rates between global and local companies put South African platforms at a disadvantage.

Following calls for a digital tax on online companies doing business in SA, the commission suggested that National Treasury considers competition when it looks at tax policies for the digital market but does not recommend that the changes need to happen.

Stakeholders and the public have six weeks to make submissions to the Inquiry on the provisional findings and recommendations.

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