EU fines Google a record 2.42 billion euros

  • EU fines Google a record 2.42 billion euros

EU fines Google a record 2.42 billion euros

The commission found this preferential behavior gave Google a significant advantage relative to its rivals, a breach of European Union antitrust rules.

European antitrust regulators accused Google of "abusing dominance" by unfairly favoring its own services over its rivals. "Google's own comparison shopping service is not subject to Google's generic search algorithms, including such demotions".

GOOGLE has been slapped with a record-breaking €2.4bn (£2.1bn) fine by European regulators for abusing its dominant position in the fiercely competitive and rapidly expanding world of online shopping.

Google will be required to pay the fine assigned by the Commission, change its search engine results practices within 90 days, and could be liable for further civil penalties brought forth by member states or by individuals who have been harmed by these antitrust violations.

Back in 2012, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's competition unit conducted its own investigation into Google Shopping, and it also concluded that Google was abusing its market position. She said hundreds of companies, including some based in the USA, complained about the way Google displayed its shopping service. It meant that when consumers entered queries into the Google search engine, Google Shopping offers were displayed at or near the top of the search results.

More broadly, Vestager said, the probe has established that Google is dominant in general internet search in all 31 countries of the European economic area.

Google insisted that it "shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both".

Mrs Vestager also warned that the Commission had drawn preliminary conclusions into two other cases where Google appeared to be stifling choice, one concerning the Android operating system, and the other on search ad programme AdSense. And the EU's biggest competition decision came previous year when Mrs Vestager ordered tech giant Apple to repay €13 billion in back taxes in Ireland.

Vestager said it was up to Google to decide exactly how to comply with the ruling.

The fine centers around Google's comparison shopping service - which has been known by names from Froogle and Google Product Search to Google Shopping - and its prominent display in related search results. That's a huge advantage for Google when 90 percent of use-clicks are on page one.

Trump has spoken at times of a need for aggressive antitrust regulation, and Google's close ties to the White House under President Obama have been severed under the new political order.

The case, launched in 2010, is one of three against Google and of several against blockbuster USA companies including Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and McDonalds.

Shivaun Raff, CEO and cofounder of Foundem, the lead complainant in the case, welcomed the Commission's decision to prohibit Google's actions.

Reverting to relegating the feature to its own separate page would also seem like it could satisfy the commission's requirements, but that seems like a more extreme move than Google would be willing to make, because it would basically bury the shopping tool itself.

Facebook was fined by antitrust regulators in May for misleading officials over its takeover of messaging service WhatsApp.