Google Slapped with $2.7B Fine for EU Antitrust Violation

EU Antitrust Chief to Speak at 1100 BST on Competition Case

However, using that dominance to hinder "competition on the merits" in that market or any other market is against antitrust rules.

The Commission has come under fire in the United States for a perceived bias against USA companies. Officials in the bloc vigorously deny these claims. Last year, Apple was hit with a record €13 billion (£11.3 billion) tax bill after the Commission, led by commissioner Margrethe Vestager, ruled its tax arrangements in Ireland amounted to "state aid".

In targeting the activities of these digital giants, experts say, European authorities are laying down a marker for more hands-on control of how much of the digital world operates.

The $2.7 billion fine represents just over 2.5% of Google's revenue previous year and Alphabet, Google's owner, had $92.4 billion in cash as of end of March.

The biggest risk to Google is not the fine but the changes demanded to its business, said Richard Windsor, an independent financial analyst who tracks competition among the biggest USA and Asian internet and mobile companies. She said hundreds of companies, including some based in the U.S., complained about the way Google displayed its shopping service. "It's always been like that". The probe includes whether the search results favor Google's services, such as its price comparison business, how it displays the contents of rivals, and how it manages ads. The Commission has found that Google violated European Union antitrust laws by giving search preference to its own comparison shopping service at the expense of its competitors. A shopping search query through Google would routinely return results with Google Shopping at or near the top of the results list.

"The EU has effectively decided that some companies have become too big to innovate", Robert Atkinson, president of a think tank called The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said in a statement. Google denies the accusations. The policy, which has now been deemed illegal, not only failed to give customers all shopping options but also hampered the businesses of retailers.

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"Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both", Google general counsel Kent Walker explains in a post to the Google in Europe blog.

Google said it will "review the commission's decision in detail" as they consider an appeal.

KitGuru Says: I have never fully understood the objection the EC has had to Google's shopping/price comparison search engine. The authorities can demand that Google make further changes if they are not satisfied with the initial proposals.

"And most importantly, it has prevented european consumers to benefit from a real choice of services, and take full advantage of innovation", has accused Ms. Vestager. The company is likely to fiercely oppose such a move.

This sanction could create a precedent for other Google services, like Google Images or Google News, against whom complaints similar to that filed against Google Shopping have been filed.

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