Monday, 15 July, 2019

Google Fined $1.7 Billion for Third EU Antitrust Breach in Three Years

Portable Device Google has fallen foul of EU competition rules before. Jaap Arriens Nur
Russell Knight | 20 March, 2019, 21:45

The European Union on Wednesday hit tech giant Google with a $1.7 billion fine - its third in two years - supposedly for driving down competition in online advertising.

The announced changes to Google search are meant to help the Sillicon Valley giant avoid a repeat of 2017 when Brussels fined Google 2.4 billion euros for favouring its "Google Shopping" price comparison service in search results.

The EU last July fined the company 4.3 billion euros and demanded that it change the way it puts search and web-browser apps onto Android mobile devices. In a press release, Vestager stated: Today the Commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts.

In response, Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president for global affairs, said the company will be making "further updates" to its products in Europe. Microsoft filed an EU antitrust complaint about the service in 2009 and the EU Commission formally launched its probe in 2016, although it said at the time that Google had already made some changes to allow affected customers more freedom to show competing ads.

That prevented competitors from placing their ads on these sites, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google's adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from the internet giant before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

If Google is found not to have done enough, it could see another fine encompassing 5 percent of Alphabet's daily income worldwide.

Specifically: Google is accused of abusing its dominant position by forcing customers to advertise exclusively through AdSense, the product that places relevant ads on websites.

This is how Google abuses its dominance according to the EU.                  European Competition Commission
This is how Google abuses its dominance according to the EU. European Competition Commission

The fine was announced by Vestager in a tweet where she added that Google "denied consumers choice, innovative products, and fair prices".

The much-criticised "Shopping remedy" now delivers 40 per cent of clicks to "rival" sites from the Shopping Unit on Google's front page - up from 6 per cent last summer.

This is not the first time the European Commission fined Google for abusing its market dominance.

Google's foe, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, said regulators should stay vigilant. Google's rivals were unable to grow and offer alternative online search advertising intermediation services to those of Google.

The European Commission provided this helpful graphic of Google's custom search ad practices.

"Now we'll also do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones", continues Walker.

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Google fined €1.49 billion by EU Commission for blocking advertising rivals
This followed a €2.42 billion euro penalty in 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager during one of the Google antitrust announcements.

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