International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law 2023

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TOURISM, TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY LAW o submitting or commissioning another legal or natural person to submit false consumer reviews or endorsements, or misrepresenting consumer reviews or social endorsements to promote products.103 Such practices are considered as manipulative and are, therefore, always prohibited.104 All these novelties for the online market regarding unfair commercial practices are the result of balancing between the protection of legitimate interests of consumers in informed and free selection from among the offered products and services on online marketplaces and the freedom of operators of online marketplaces to conduct business.105 This balance is kept in such a way that the providers of online marketplaces freely decide on the concept of ranking, the selection of parameters for the ranking, the content of information on parameters, determination of validity of individual parameters, the selection of persons to whom services are offered via platforms (bussines users or consumers), as well as on contracting paid advertisements and the payment of higher ranking, on the selection and method of presenting the reviews, and the like. Consumer protection is achieved by transparent information on the commercial practices of online marketplaces regarding all these circumstances by which the consumers’ attention is drawn to the level of reliablity of the ranking and the reviews.106 In order to protect consumers, the EU rules always impose on the operators of online marketplaces new and additional information duties. Their goal is to inform consumers about how operators, in their dealings on online marketplaces, have decided to organise a search query and ranking, whose offers are shown, how reviews are treated, whether their autenticity is controlled, and similar issues. Omissions in informing consumers about all these facts when all other prerequisites provided for in the UCPD are fulfilled are considered as unfair commercial practices and shall be prohibited. In other words, on the basis of the UCPD, consumers will be protected on the online market only when the acting of the provider of online marketplace is considered as prohibited unfair commercial practice. However, even then the protection will depend on the national enforcement measures against unfair commercial practices. What kind of measures will then be taken in order to combat unfair commercial practices primarily depends on how the national laws of the Member States have codified enforcement against unfair 103 See Annex I UCPD, point 23c. 104 For examples of prohibited manipulative practices see Guidance on the interpretation and application of Directive 2005/29/EC, 2021, p. 96. 105 Art. 26, Charter of Fundamental Rights in EU. 106 See Narciso, M. (2022a) p. 360.