Tech by VICE

European Commission Fines Google $2.7 Billion for Breaking Antitrust Rules

Google may also have to pay daily fines if it doesn't change.

by Ben Sullivan
Jun 27 2017, 11:58am

Shutterstock/Rrraum

After seven long, embattled years, Google has lost its fight against European regulators who accused the search giant of promoting its own services over its rivals.

Google now has to pay up €2.4 billion (around $2.7 billion) for what the European Commission deems an abuse of its market dominance. However, Google said in a statement that it will consider appealing the decision.

Google acted illegally under EU antitrust rules, the court found, by pushing its own shopping results higher up the page when people searched for products.

"It [Google] 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," European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, said in a statement.

Google must now end its preferential treatment of its own services within 90 days or face daily penalty payments of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company. Alphabet's revenue for the last quarter of 2016 hit $25 billion.

The European court found that from 2008, Google started pushing its own comparison shopping service that relied heavily on Google's search platform.

When a consumer entered a search query into Google, Google's own results were displayed at or near the top of the search results. In comparison, Google subjected the results of competitors, like Yelp and TripAdvisor, to algorithms that pushed their results down, according to the European Commission.

A Google spokesperson told Motherboard on Tuesday, "We will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case." The company has further defended itself in a blog post.

Business monopoly isn't in itself illegal, but by using unfair search practices, Google is abusing its position of power by seeking to undermine fair competition leaving consumers with limited choices.

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