The European Commission has fined Google €2.42bn for abusing its dominant market position by giving illegal advantage in search results to its own comparison shopping service.
The fine is the biggest ever handed down by European competition authorities for so-called ant-trust or market abuse. It is the latest in a string of findings that have hit big US technology firms, including last year’s €13bn Apple tax decision.
The Google fine takes into account the “gravity and duration” of the market abuse, the Commission said.
With more than $90bn in cash, Google will have no trouble paying the fine. But the decision could force Google to change the way it handles online shopping searches, a major source of advertising revenue.
“Google’s practices amount to an abuse of Google’s dominant position in general internet search thereby stifling competition in comparison shopping markets,” the Commission said.
“Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives. That’s a good thing. But Google’s strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy.
“Instead, Google 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.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. 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,” she added.
The Commission concluded that Google is dominant in all 31 national markets in the European Economic Area (EEA) for general internet search.
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