|TRIVAGO N.V. filed this Form 20-F on 03/06/2018|
A failure to comply with current laws, rules and regulations or changes to such laws, rules and regulations and other legal uncertainties may adversely affect our business, financial performance, results of operations or business growth.
Our business and financial performance could be adversely affected by unfavorable changes in or interpretations of existing laws, rules and regulations or the promulgation of new laws, rules and regulations applicable to us and our businesses, including those relating to hotels, the Internet and online commerce, Internet advertising and price display, consumer protection, anti-corruption, anti-trust and competition, economic and trade sanctions, tax, banking, data security and privacy. As a result, regulatory authorities or courts could prevent or temporarily suspend us from carrying on some or all of our activities or otherwise penalize us (including financial penalties and adverse findings) if our practices were found not to comply with applicable legal, regulatory or licensing requirements or any binding interpretation of such requirements. Unfavorable changes or interpretations, and changes we might be required to make to our practices as a result, could decrease demand for our services, limit marketing methods and capabilities, affect our margins, increase costs or subject us to additional liabilities.
Regulators have recently increased their focus on the consumer facing business practices of companies active in the Internet search sector, in particular with respect to the providers of online travel search and booking services. A number of regulators in various countries have made public statements that they are investigating the sector generally and individual companies concerning their marketing and selling practices. For example, on October 27, 2017 the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority, or CMA, announced the launch of an investigation into online hotel booking sites, with focal points on how hotels are ranked in search results, whether claims on the sites create a false impression of rate or room availability or rush customers into making a booking decision, whether the discount claims made on sites offer a fair comparison for customers and the extent to which sites include all costs in the price they first show customers, and the CMA has written to companies across the whole sector in the United Kingdom, including us, requiring information to understand more about their practices. On October 24, 2017, the German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) announced a sector inquiry focused on the consumer facing practices of online price comparison websites active in the travel, insurance, financial services, telecommunications and energy sectors in Germany, covering topics such as rankings, financing, corporate links, reviews, availability and relevant market coverage to assess whether consumer law provisions may have been violated. We have also been contacted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, or ACCC. The ACCC has requested information and documents from us relating to our advertisements in Australia concerning the hotel prices available on our Australian site and our strike-through pricing practice on that site, which is the display adjacent to the price quote in the top position in our search results of a higher price that is crossed out. Should changes in our sector brought about by this regulatory attention reduce the attractiveness, competitiveness or functionality of our platform and the services we offer, or should our reputation or that of our sector suffer, or should we have to pay substantial amounts in respect or as a result of any such proceedings, our results of operations, financial condition and prospects could be materially adversely affected.
In addition, there are, and will likely continue to be, an increasing number of laws and regulations pertaining to the Internet and online commerce that may relate to liability for information retrieved from, transmitted over or displayed on the Internet, display of certain taxes, charges and fees, online editorial, user-generated or other third party content, user or other third party privacy, data security, behavioral targeting and online advertising, taxation, liability for third-party activities and the quality of services. Furthermore, the growth and development of online commerce may prompt calls for additional or more complex consumer protection laws and higher levels of regulatory review and enforcement activities, which may impose additional burdens, costs or limitations on online businesses generally.
Likewise, the SEC, U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, as well as other foreign regulatory authorities, have continued to increase the enforcement of economic and trade regulations and anti-corruption laws, across industries. U.S. trade sanctions restrict transactions involving designated foreign countries and territories, including the Crimea region of Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, as well as certain specifically targeted individuals and entities. We believe that our activities comply with applicable OFAC trade regulations and anti-corruption regulations, including the U.S. Foreign