Monday, 25 June, 2018

Google fined record $2.7 billion in European antitrust case

Fine Margrethe Vestager Fine Margrethe Vestager
Laurie Berry | 28 June, 2017, 23:35

While it's the first serious fine, it may not be the last with the European Union also probing Google's Adsense advertising arm and its Android mobile phone system. Google may appeal. A spokesperson said: "When you shop online, you want to find the products you're looking for quickly and easily".

The fine is the highest ever imposed in Europe for anti-competitive behaviour, exceeding a 1.06 billion euros penalty on Silicon Valley chip maker Intel in 2009. If Google fails to comply with the Commission's order it could face daily fines of up to 12.5 million (EUR) a day which represents 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of its parent company Alphabet.

European regulators say "Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service". "This has deprived European consumers of the benefits of competition on the merits, namely genuine choice and innovation".

Google Shopping shows images and prices of products on page one when someone carries out a search.

European Union antitrust regulators on Tuesday hit Alphabet (GOOGL.O) unit Google with a record 2.42 billion Euro ($2.7 billion) fine, Reuters is reporting.

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"It wasn't just about making its product better than those of its rivals". "Google's own comparison shopping service is not subject to Google's generic search algorithms, including such demotions". "With this decision, the commission is saying that Google has broken the law and now needs to stop its abuse and allow competition back into the marketplace", said Richard Stables, the Kelkoo's CEO. "We will continue to work with the Commission to ensure that Google ceases to abuse its dominance in the travel sector and to create a level playing field for its competitors while allowing Google to continue to innovate".

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), a formal plaintiff in the case, welcomed the decision as "a game-changer".

Google has been advised to end the conduct within 90 days.

Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president and lead lawyer, hit out accusing the Commission of "underestimating" the value of its "fast and easy connections".

But he also stressed that it is paramount to have "a very strong monitoring trustee and oversight to ensure that the remedy is put into practice correctly by Google". Oracle, Yelp and others reportedly sent Vestager a letter this week saying they "have watched Google undermine competition in the United States and overseas".

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