Google was fined almost €1.5 billion
($1.7 billion) by the European Commission for an antitrust violation, the
legislative body announced.
Labeled as “outright prohibition,” Google was fined for abusive practices
regarding competition policy, the third fine it has received over a two-year
span. The case was identified in 2016 and Google has since been cooperating
with the EU to improve its policy.
EU regulators found the tech
company had been for years abusing its leading position in online advertising
by restricting rivals such as Microsoft and Yahoo from posting search ads in
search results through Google’s engine on partner websites such as retailers or
newspapers. It used AdSense for Search, which works as an intermediary platform
between advertisers and website owners, to pressure customers into denying
advertising from other search engines.
The strategy goes back to 2006.
Other clauses in its contracts specify that written approval was mandatory in
case of changes to rival adverts to prevent them from getting more clicks.
“Today the Commission has
fined Google €1.49 billion for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the
market for the brokering of online search adverts,” said
EU antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “Google has cemented its
dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive
pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party
websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over
10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits
and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition.”
Through its practices, Google
obtained a market share of over 70% between 2006 and 2016 in the European
Economic Area for general search and online search advertising, the European
Commission said in a press release.
The three fines received so far add up to a whopping €8.2 billion. The recently announced fine may be a simple slap on the wrist for the tech giant, as, according to CNBC, it just added almost $17 billion to its value following a 2% stock gain, or 10 times the fine received from the EU.