European Union antitrust regulators have slapped Alphabet Inc.’s Google with a 2.42-billion-euro ($2.7 billion) fine for favouring its own shopping service. The action concludes a 7-year investigation into the company.
The EU Commission concluded Google systematically gave prominent placement its own comparison shopping service and demoted those of rivals in search results. In a statement, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager 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”
The action came after a seven-year long investigation prompted by scores of complaints from rivals such as U.S. consumer review website Yelp, TripAdvisor, UK price comparison site Foundem, News Corp and lobbying group FairSearch.
The European Commission said the company has 90 days to stop favoring its own shopping service. Beyond that, they face a further penalty of up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily global turnover. They also indicated they will likely take a tough line with the company in two other ongoing cases.
The Commission has also accused Google of blocking rivals in online search advertising. If found guilty, they could be charged with deterrent fines. Google has also been charged with using the Android mobile operating system unfairly. This case could be the most damaging for the company, as it is the most used operating system on smartphones.
This is the biggest fine for a single company in an EU antitrust case. It exceeds a 1.06-billion-euro sanction handed down to chipmaker Intel in 2009. It’s also Google’s largest settlement to date, following a settlement in the US for scrapping reviews from other sites.