The EU has been investigating Google for anti-competitive practices online for more than seven years now, with the first investigation dating back to 2010. Google and the EU have tried to settle the ‘disagreement’ over their promotion of Google Shopping in search results over that of competitors, but discussions broke down several times. Now, the European Commission has slapped the search giant with a whopping $2.72 billion dollar fine.
That fine is the largest the Commission has ever issued against a company, including both Intel and Microsoft who were investigated for anti-competitive practices as well. The European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager confirmed the fine today with a statement that says Google’s strategy for improving its product went beyond just attracting new customers, abusing their search market dominance to promote their own products.
“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.”
Rival shopping comparison sites like Kelkoo and Twenga only appeared on page four of Google’s search results, while Google’s own shopping service wasn’t subject to these algorithmic rankings. The Commission stresses that it’s not illegal for Google to be the dominant search engine, but that it has a responsibility to make sure it’s not suppressing competitors within those rankings.
Google’s response to the verdict says they’ll consider an appeal, but the EU has given the company 90 days to respond to the ruling and end the conduct that caused the issue or it will face additional fines.