Google slapped with £2bn fine breaching EU antitrust laws

Google slapped with £2bn fine breaching EU antitrust laws

The European Commission has fined Google €2.42bn (£2.14bn) for breaching EU antitrust rules.

According to the European Commission, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage its comparison-shopping service.

The Commission has ruled that Google must end its conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company.

This is in addition to the €2.42bn fine which the Commission said is based on the duration and gravity of the infringement in accordance with the Commission's 2006 Guidelines on fines. It is based on the value of Google's revenue from its comparison shopping service in the 13 EEA countries concerned. 

"Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals," commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said. "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, she continued. "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."

Kent Walker, senior vice-president and general counsel at Google, responded that its shopping ads are in the interest of its users: "When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products. That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both."

He added that Google "respectfully disagrees" with the Commission's conclusions. 

"We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case," he said. 

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