Company found to have promoted its own shopping comparison service at the top of search results.
Alphabet subsidiary, Google, has been fined a record $2.7bn (£2.1bn; 2.42bn euro) by European Union regulators after they ruled the company had abused its power by promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of search results at the expense of competitors, and acted in a monopolistic manner.
The EU claims that Google abused its search engine market dominance by manipulating results to favor its own comparison shopping service. The ruling also orders Google to end its anti-competitive practices within 90 days or face a further penalty.
EU regulators found that by artificially and illegally promoting its own price comparison service in searches, Google had intentionally denied consumers real choices and made it more difficult for rival firms to compete fairly.
Largest EU fine, like, ever.
The amount is the regulator’s largest penalty to date against a company, accused of distorting the market, according to the Europea Union’s official press statement on the Google fine. “What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” declared Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s Competition Commissioner. “It has denied other companies the chance to compete on their merits and to innovate, and most importantly it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation.”
If Google does not appeal the ruling, (it probably will) the tech giant will have to end its anti-competitive practices within 90 days or face a further penalty. Crucially, the EU have left just how Google must do that, up to themselves only telling them it must end. If however, Google does not change the way it operates its comparison shopping service within the three-month deadline, it could be forced to make payments of 5% of its parent company Alphabet’s average daily worldwide earnings. By my estimate, that works out at roughly $14m a day.
Seven year investigation
The European Commission has been investigating Google Shopping since late 2010. The original probe was spurred on by complaints, including several from Microsoft, who have previously fallen foul of EU regulators in relation to Monopolizing on more than one occasion.
Google has responded to the ruling in predictable fashion, with a sort of ‘Who? Us?’ response: “When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily,” said a Google spokesperson. “That’s why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.
“[As a result] we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”