Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Google slapped with record €2.4bn European Union fine for breaching antitrust rules

Google slapped with record €2.4bn European Union fine for breaching antitrust rules

In addition, the Silicon Valley tech giant faces an inquiry into its advertising practices in Europe.

Google has indicated it intends to appeal the ruling. "And advertisers want to promote those same products", Kent Walker, Google's senior vice-president and general counsel, said in a statement. If the company fails to comply within 90 days, it'll be looking at a daily penalty equal to 5% of parent company Alphabet's average daily worldwide earnings.

The $2.7 billion fine was aimed at Google's shopping practices, which the EC deemed unfair to Google's competition.

WIRED: Google's Big EU Fine Isn't Just About The Money - "Today the EU's executive branch, the European Commission, also ordered Google to change the way it displays search results from its online shopping tool".

The Commission said that Google acted illegally by giving priority placement in search results to its own shopping service, while relegating results from rivals to areas where potential buyers were much less likely to click.

The fine is "merely a financial inconvenience for Alphabet", said Richard Windsor, analyst at Edison Investment Research, in a statement.

"We've had many exchanges with Google to hear their views", Vestager said.

Even if Google doesn't appeal, it is still fighting two other antitrust cases in the European Union, regarding Android and AdSense. With companies like Google looking to embed themselves in all aspects of our lives, it will make the job of regulators hard as Google, Amazon and Apple use their in-home products alongside their online services to push customers towards their products and services.

As just a handful of largely American companies have become global tech monopolies, regulators in the USA have done little to deter anticompetitive practices. Oracle, Yelp and others reportedly sent Vestager a letter this week saying they "have watched Google undermine competition in the United States and overseas".

Mark Patterson, a Fordham Law School Professor who specialises in antitrust law and internet law, said that the decision offers a "window" into "the dark side of Google's algorithms" but also said that it emphasises the need for more rigorous monitoring as tech companies become more dominant and powerful.

Google was also fighting two other competition cases with the Commission that could see it hit with heavy fines. Trump has named Republican Maureen Ohlhausen as acting FTC chair, but some Google critics have been pushing other candidates. Also, the European Union decided past year that Apple should repay Ireland $14.5 billion in back taxes, saying that the country gave the company illegal tax benefits.

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