The European Commission has often employed a strict policy to potential monopolies and Google has been a frequent target. Today, the search giant has been slapped with a $2.7 billion fine by the EU. To put this into perspective, it is the largest fine ever handed by the commission.
Google has fallen foul of regulators on the Old Continent and has been found to be using its position as the search market leader to stimmy other rivals. The court says the punishment was given because the company’s “abuse of its dominant position by systematically favoring.”
This conclusion wraps an investigation that has lasted seven years. Through that, many companies have complained against Google, while the search company tried to strike a deal with regulators. European investigators found that Google Search used its algorithms to undermine competitors in its Shopping search feature.
Joaquin Alumina had previously headed the investigation, but was known to be more willing to deal with companies. New EU competition chief, Margrethe Vestager has taken a harsher approach.
As a result, Google is left paying the largest antitrust fine in history. The company must also make changes to its search algorithm ranks websites in the EU. Naturally, Mountain View disagrees with the punishment and the conclusion of the case and will appeal the case.
Google issued the following response to the conclusion:
“We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago. Showing ads that include pictures, ratings, and prices benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, our users. And we show them only when your feedback tells us they are relevant. Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay.”
Microsoft and Europe
Google’s severe fine may serve as a cautionary punishment for Microsoft. The company has recently been reported to the European Commission for similar practices, albeit for anti-virus on Windows 10.
Kaspersky Lab says Microsoft forces third party anti-virus providers off the platform through each update. Considering Europe’s hard-line approach to such practices, Microsoft could be in trouble if found guilty.
Back in 2004, the company was handed a $732 million fine for its own search practises.