Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Google fined $2.7bn by European Commission

EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine For Breaking “Fair Play” Rules Google fined $2.7bn by European Commission
Ellis Copeland | 29 June, 2017, 19:13

The tech giant breached antitrust rules with its online shopping service, the European Commission said.

Search engine Google has been hit with a £2.1 billion fine for stifling competition and excessively promoting its own shopping service. It began soon after the United States tech giant rivals such as Microsoft and Trip Advisor complained against Google that it favoured its own shopping services when customers ran searches.

The EU believes Google is "abusing" its search engine dominance by ranking its own services ahead of competitors.

The action follows a seven-year investigation prompted by scores of complaints from rivals such as US consumer review website Yelp (YELP.N), TripAdvisor (TRIP.O), United Kingdom price comparison site Foundem, News Corp (NWSA.O) and lobbying group FairSearch. Otherwise, the company will face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet (Google's parent company).

Having given Google a window of 90 days within which the company has to stop its "illegal" practice, the anti-trust commission has also pointed out how they plan to penalize the company if it does not clean up its act. Instead, she argued, it "denied other companies the chance to compete". "And most importantly, it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice of services and innovation".

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Google Shopping appears at the top of Google search results and compares prices from various retailers. The EU has found Google has been pushing its own products up in search rankings in order to gain what to says is an unfair market advantage.

The fine is the biggest antitrust penalty the European Union has ever applied to a single company, exceeding the $1 billion fine handed to Intel in 2009. "And advertisers want to promote those same products", Kent Walker, Google's general counsel, said in a statement. "If you shop online, you want to quickly and easily find the items you are looking for".

The fine is the largest meted out by Brussels for a monopoly abuse case and has resulted from a seven-year-long investigation.

The Commission found Google hurt European businesses and customers. 'We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today, ' a company spokesperson offered in a brief statement to press.

"We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago". She said hundreds of companies, including some based in the US, complained about the way Google displayed its shopping service.

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