Competition Protection Commission, Net Info and others vs. Google Ireland and Google Inc., No. 395 (May 12, 2015)

Document type
Administrative Decision
(1) The Bulgarian online media companies Net Info and V Box—Bulgaria's largest video sharing portal—filed a complaint with the Competition Protection Commission (CPC) against Google and its video portal YouTube. The plaintiff claimed that Google violated Articles 29 and 36, para.1 of the Law on Protection of Competition. Article 29 states that “Any action or omission when carrying out economic activity, which is contrary to good faith commercial practices and damages or may damage the interests of competitors shall be prohibited.” Article 36 (1) provides that “Carrying out unfair competition, aimed at soliciting clients, as a result of which existing agreements are terminated or breached, or entry into such agreements with competitors is prevented, shall be prohibited.”)
(2) The complaint was prompted by the fact that during the election campaign in Bulgaria in 2014, YouTube was showing ads for various Bulgarian political parties and candidates without complying with the provisions of Art. 138a of the Election Code, which obliges the providers of media services to announce on their web sites information about the contracts concluded with the parties, coalitions and nomination committees that have registered candidates and/or with another contracting authority in connection with the election campaign, if the contract has been concluded with an intermediary. They are also required to present to the Audit Office and the Central Electoral Commission clear advertising tariffs for the political parties during the campaigns. Google did not do so and thus the aims of the Election Code were diluted which led to alleged breach of the Art. 29 and art.36, para.1 of the Law on Protection of Competition.
(3) The plaintiff claims that “although the Election Code does not apply to the social networks, YouTube is not to be considered a social network.” Under § 20 of the Supplementary Provisions of the Election Code “Media service provider” shall be “a sole-trader natural person or a legal person who or which has editorial responsibility for the choice of the content of the media service and determines the manner in which the said service is organized.”
(4) The main argument of the plaintiff is that both the respondent and themselves are to be qualified as Media service providers ergo they should be both subject to the abovementioned obligations. The CPC issued Decision No 395-12/05/2015 in favor of the defendant. This decision is now appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court (last instance).
Topic, claim, or defense
Consumer Protection or Harm (e.g. Fraud)
Election Law
Document type
Administrative Decision
Issuing entity
Administrative Authority
Type of service provider
Host (Including Social Networks)
Type of law
General effect on immunity
General intermediary liability model