Google has been fined a record-breaking 2.4 billion Euros ($2.7 billion) by the European Commission after a seven-year investigation deemed the tech giant has been illegally favoring its own shopping service on search results.
The penalty marks the biggest ever competition fine from the EC against a company accused of abusing the internet market. It doubles the previous record which was dished out to Intel in 2009 for $1.2 billion.
In the ruling, the EC said the search-engine company had broken European Union competition law by skewing results in internet searches to favor its own online shopping market, thus creating market dominance and crushing other price comparison sites. It said it had “systematically” been favoring its own shopping service since 2008.
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EC commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that Google had “abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.”
She said the company had 90 days to end its anti-competitive actions or it would face a further penalty. If it fails to change its ways within the timeline, Google could be forced to make payments of 5% of its parent company Alphabet’s average worldwide daily earnings. Based on the company’s most recent financial report, that would amount to around $14 million per day.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” said Vestager. “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.”
Google has denied the claims and has indicated it may appeal the ruling.
More than 90% of internet searches in the EU go through Google. The landmark case dates back to 2010, when the EC first began investigating the U.S. tech giant after complaints from Microsoft among others. Google was hit with formal charges in 2015 and 2016 but continually denied it had abused its market position and has previously suggested that Amazon and eBay had more influence of the public’s spending habits.
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