Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Antitrust Violations Add up to Whopping Fine for Google

Antitrust Violations Add up to Whopping Fine for Google

After further run-ins, Microsoft's total fines with the European Union have totalled about 2 billion euros.

Google is by far the world's most popular search engine and is estimated to have more than a 90 percent market share; it has a great power to influence what we see and do online.

Though the EU's problems will Google date back to almost seven years ago, the problem, as it relates to the retail industry, is only about four years old. It gave the company 90 days to change its practices and display rivals' services in the same way it displays its own.

Google says it is considering an appeal.

Comparison shopping services rely to a great extent on traffic to be competitive, meaning that Google's engineering of search results skewed the market unfairly.

A rep for Google tells Reuters that the company respectfully disagrees with the Commission's finding.

Google has also been accused by the European Commission of "stifling competition" by abusing the dominant position of its Android operating system.

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Additionally, because evidence shows that consumers click far more often on results that are more visible, or appear higher in search results, Google is giving its own comparison shopping service a significant advantage compared to rivals, according to the Commission.

In a statement explaining the fine, Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust chief, explained that "Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals". The E.U. Commission could claim noncompliance payments from the search-engine giant, which may amount up to 5 percent of the daily global turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company.

Traffic to the Google Shopping site increased by 45 times in the United Kingdom alone as the result of search results promotion, while traffic to certain competitor websites in the United Kingdom suddenly decreased by 85% - an event that could not be explained by factors other than the change in search engine results.

Google had previously suggested that Amazon and eBay have more influence over the public's spending habits and has again said it does not accept the claims made against it.

"And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation". With its comparison tools, reviews, millions of retailers, and vast range of products from sneakers to groceries, Amazon is a formidable competitor and has become the first port of call for product searches.

The penalty comes after the competition referee launched an investigation into Google Shopping seven years ago, amid complaints it gave the service a prominent position on the internet search engine, while rival services were demoted.

The investigation has proceeded slowly to unfold under two successive antitrust commissioners, growing more complex, and ultimately diverging into two and then three investigations. European regulators found this illegal because Google is paid to put specific links at the top of the page.

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