Google has been hit with a record antitrust fine of €2.42bn (£2.1bn) from the European Union today for promoting its own shopping search service over those of smaller rivals.
The regulator found that Google had abused its market dominance as a search engine “by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service,” it said.
European regulators gave the tech giant 90 days to stop its illegal activities or face fines of up to 5 per cent of the average daily worldwide turnover of parent company Alphabet. That currently amounts to around $14m a day.
The commission has the power to fine Google’s parent up to 10 per cent of its annual revenue, which was more than $90bn (£70.8bn).
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules… It has denied other companies the chance to compete on their merits and to innovate, and most importantly it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation.”
“Most importantly, today’s decision shows that in Europe companies must compete on the merits regardless of whether they are online, the high street, and whether they are European or not.”
She said since she had taken the helm as commissioner in 2014, she has given high priority to the case. During its probe, she said the commission sifted through terabytes of data, the equivalent of 1.7 billion search queries: “It’s a lot of data and it is of course needed because our decision has to be based on firm evidence. “
She said she has no reason to believe that Google will not comply, but said the commission intended to monitor Google’s compliance closely. “This means this issue will remain on our desk for some time. “
This decision was a very long time in coming–which means of course that Google have managed to operate illegally since at least 2010 with this fine hanging in the air (see my 2014 post “The Delay’s The Thing: April Fools and the Google Antitrust Case at the European Commission“).
The Google Transparency Project has an excellent review of Google’s revolving door employees in the UK and Europe:
Not surprisingly, the Computer and Communications Industry Association came out with one of those innovation based thingys defending Google, a fellow member of the MIC Coalition cartel.
Obviously more on this to come, but the real question is when will the EU go after Google for YouTube.
If you ever wondered just how arrogant the YouTube negotiators really are, realize that these geniuses decided that it would be a good time to alienate the WIN and Merlin labels–based in…where was that again…oh yes…Europe…right in the middle of the EU antitrust investigation. And how did they alienate the indies? By doing pretty much the EXACT SAME THING that Google was accused of doing in search–abusing their dominant position to benefit themselves.
To be continued…