European Union fines Google record $2.7B in antitrust ruling

Google has been hit with a record-breaking €2.4 billion fine by the EU over its antitrust case

The Commission said that Google acted illegally by giving priority placement in search results to its own shopping service, while relegating results from rivals to areas where potential buyers were much less likely to click.

'What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules, ' explained Margrethe Vestager, the European Union's Competition Commissioner. If it does not, it faces penalty payments of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, which is Google's parent company.

"What Google has done is illegal under European Union antitrust rules, Google has abused its market dominance in its search engine by promoting its own shopping comparison service in its search results, and demoting its competitors" European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. Google SVP said that the Mountain View, California-based tech giant "respectfully disagrees" with the ruling and is now considering an appeal against the decision, in addition to listing a number of reasons why the company believes the EC was wrong to punish it. In a blog post, Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker pointed, in part, to the rise of Amazon in defense of Google's search practices. "Advertisers also want to market those same items, which is why Google displays these ads", Google said in reply to the conviction. The EU's antitrust filing states that Google showed users results from Google Shopping "irrespective of merits", which deprived rival price comparison sites of traffic.

This decision has been years in the making, with the European Commission first sending a letter to Google about the matter in 2015.

"Vestager is proving she means business", said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer who represents FairSearch, a group of companies that complained to the EU. Google began to implement a fundamental change in strategy in 2008.




Google argued the allegation from Brussels "just doesn't fit the reality of how most people shop online". As a matter of fact, the figure published in earlier report only represented about half the amount the search engine giant has now been fined with by Europe's regulatory body.

If you feel moved, here is the full press conference and Q&A with the Commissioner that was held today announcing the fine and the Commission's concerns.

The company was also accused of using Android System to crush rivals and Google AdSense.

Last summer, Vestager ordered Apple to pay €13 billion in back taxes in Ireland. The fine trumps the previous antitrust record of $1.2 billion imposed on Intel in 2009. "As the company's biggest earner is still the ads it places alongside search results, it needs to make sure that user confidence in its search results is maintained".

Complainants in Tuesday's decision, including Yelp Inc., are hoping the shopping case will have broader implications for Google.

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