Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Google Gets Hit With A Record Fine Over Its Search Results

Google Gets Hit With A Record Fine Over Its Search Results

European Union discovered that Google had systematically given prominent placement in searches to its own comparison shopping service and demoted those of rivals in search results. According to the European Commission the company is guilty of abusing its near monopoly in search results by promoting its own shopping comparison services, over those of its competitors.

The $2.7 billion fine is the largest penalty the European Commission has handed out in this type of antitrust case.

Walker said the search results displayed by the company are "the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback". It denied other companies the chance to compete on merit and to innovate.

Investigators found, on average, even Google Shopping's most highly ranked rivals only appeared on page four of Google search results - with 90 per cent of user-clicks on page one.

Smaller shopping websites such as Axel Springer SE and News Corp., as well as larger companies such as Microsoft, had complained about Google's abusive practices, which prompted the investigation.

Google denied wrongdoing, saying eBay Inc. and Amazon Inc. offer significant competition in Europe. "We will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal", said Kent Walker the company's senior vice president and general counsel.

The fine is the highest ever imposed in Europe for anti-competitive behavior, exceeding a 1.06 billion euros penalty on Silicon Valley chip maker Intel in 2009. It is also worth noting that Google has been earlier accused of tax avoidance, Employee Antitrust Litigation and also censorship of search results.

The commission said its decision is hinged on Google's "abuse of dominance as search engine by giving illegal advantage to own comparison shopping service". Google disputed the EU's characterization of its shopping service and said it may appeal the ruling. "This decision requires Google to change the way it operates and to face the outcome of its actions".

The company added: "We believe the European Commission's online shopping decision underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections".

The watchdog said Google was the most dominant search engine across the 31 countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The EU has also charged Google of crushing its rivals using its Android mobile operating system and of blocking its rivals in online search advertising. Commissioner Magrethe Vestager said. This, of course, would come on top of the many millions of dollars Google has spent over the last decade vainly trying to address the Commission's concerns.

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