Google gets €2.42bn EU antitrust fine
The company unfairly promoted its own services
1 July, 2017
The European Commission fined Google €2.42bn for abusing dominance as search engine by giving illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service. The decision, announced last Tuesday is addressed to Google Inc. and Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation," Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said.
The Commission opened proceedings in this case in November 2010. This followed a number of complaints by European and US competitors that Google had breached EU antitrust rules.
The Commission decision requires Google to stop its illegal conduct within 90 days and refrain from any measure that has the same or an equivalent object or effect. In particular, the decision orders Google to comply with the simple principle of giving equal treatment to rival comparison shopping services and its own service:
The Internet giant objects against the Commission accusation that it "gave prominent placement in its search results only to its own comparison shopping service, whilst demoting rival services.”
Google maintains it's just trying to package its search results in a way that makes it easier for consumers to find what they want. "When you shop online, you want to find the products you're looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products. That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both," Kent Walker, senior vice president at Google, said in a statement. "We will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case," he added.
The Commission said its fine of €2,424,495,000 takes account of the duration and gravity of the infringement. It is the highest ever imposed in Europe fine for anti-competitive behavior, exceeding a €1.06bn penalty on Silicon Valley chip maker Intel in 2009, observers noted.