Brussels fines Google £2.1BILLION for ‘breaking EU law’ over internet search monopoly

June 27, 2017 in News by Slad

 

THE European Union (EU) has fined Google a record £2.1billion (€2.42 billion) for breaking EU laws on competition.

Source: Express | By ALIX CULBERTSON

The European Commission imposed the massive penalty against the internet giant after accusing Google of breaking EU competition law by distorting search engine results to promote its own shopping service.The investigation was launched seven years ago after scores of complaints from rival websites, including Microsoft and Trip Advisor, the internet giant gave its own service a prominent position on its search engine, while rival services were demoted.

Google now has 90 days to stop the practice or face a penalty of up to five per cent of the average daily turnover of the firm’s parent company, Alphabet.

Alphabet has denied they broke the law.

Any other services who have been affected by Google’s practices will be able to bring a civil case against the company, the EU said.

Despite Google’s mission statement being “Don’t be evil”, the European Commission said the company abused its dominance and actively pushed competitors out.

GoogleGETTY

Margrethe Vestager revealed Google has been fined £2.1billion


The huge sum eclipses the previous £1bn (€1.1bn) record fine that fellow tech company Intel was forced to pay in 2009.European Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager 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.

“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.

“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.”

“Google is dominant in all 31 countries of the European Economic Area, even if Google disputes this.

“Google has abused its dominance and seriously harmed its competitors.”

Google headquarters in CaliforniaGETTY

The case was triggered by scores of complaints from rival websites


Before the fine was made official, a Google spokesman said: “We continue to engage constructively with the European Commission.”We believe strongly that our innovations in online shopping have been good for shoppers, retailers and competition.”

Google has said regulators ignored competition from online retailers Amazon and eBay Inc.

The investigation into the world’s most popular internet search engine has so far taken seven years.

Companies found guilty of infringing EU competition rules can be fined as much as 10 per cent of their global turnover.

In Google’s case, this could be about £7bn of its 2016 turnover but the fine not expected to reach this level.

President Donald Trump speaks at rally in IowaGETTY

Brussels fining Google is likely to anger President Donald Trump 


Apart from the fine, the Commission told Google to stop its alleged anti-competitive practices.
But it is not clear what measures it will order the company to adopt to ensure that rivals get equal treatment in internet shopping results.Brussels fining a US company is likely to anger Donald Trump, who was elected US President on his ‘America First’ slogan.

The European Commission infuriated his predecessor Barack Obama last year by demanding Apple repay £11bn (€13bn) in back taxes in Ireland.

European Union flags in BrusselsGETTY

Eurocrats launched an initial investigation into Google in 2010


Eurocrats launched an initial investigation into Google in 2010 following complaints from rivals.Google’s lawyer Kent Walker last year dismissed claims that practices by Google Shopping harm competition, branding them “wrong”.

Joaquin Almunia, the former EU Commissioner for Competition, made three attempts to resolve the dispute.

But in each case intense pressure by national governments, rivals and privacy advocates scuppered the effort.