Tech giant and leading search engine outfit Google has been slammed with a staggering €2.42bn (£2.14bn) fine by the European Union (EU) Commission, which is as a result of a seven-year investigation into allegations that the company used its internet search monopoly unfairly to the detriment of its competitors.
The penalty is the biggest competition fine any company has ever been asked to pay by the EU Commission as it is double the sum Intel was asked to pay in 2009, which was a record fine until now. According to the Commission, Google broke EU competition law by exploiting the popularity and power of its search engine in order to promote its own online shopping service with other price comparison websites at the receiving end of the adverse effect of such actions.
A clear illustration of this practice viewed as anti-competition is when internet users used Google’s search engine to search for products such as clothes or electronics, the results would prominently and boldly feature Google’s own price comparison service and relegate rivals to the bottom of the search result. Google controls more than 90% of internet searches in most European countries and this advantage is said to have been used to “systematically” rank its own internet shopping service higher than rivals.
The European competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager stated that;
“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.”
The commissioner also said the company had 90 days to stop breaking EU rules or face more fines that could cost billions. The fine is the result of an investigation which began in 2010. It wasn’t until 2015 and 2016 before formal charges were instituted by the Commission against the technology giant. Google has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Google has indicated its intention to appeal against the decision. According to a spokesman for the company:-
“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,” a spokesman said.