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The European Union has introduced a set of guidelines that oblige technology giants such as Microsoft and Google to be more transparent about the operation of their search engines. Other companies complain that search engines such as Google and Bing are too opaque.

The guidelines are effective immediately. Next week, the EU will also publish a publication of draft rules that further restrict the technology sector, Reuters writes.

Preference for own services

Smaller rivals have long complained that tech giants use arbitrary and opaque algorithms to determine the order in which search results appear. In many cases, this would result in smaller companies appearing much lower in search results than their larger counterparts.

Google has long been accused of prioritising its own services over those of competitors in its search results. It has already had to pay billions of euros in fines for this.

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Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, wants to achieve more fairness. “These guidelines set the standard for algorithmic ranking transparency and will increase fairness in the online platform economy, which drives innovation and welfare for millions of Europeans,” she said.

Tech giants have lately been faced by many new EU rules. The EU tries to limit the power of the companies in an effort to give smaller competitors a better chance of gaining market share. If companies fail to comply with the new rules, the EU reserves the right to impose large fines and possibly even split them up.

Related: EC competition commissioner doesn’t see need to break up tech giants