EU set to slap massive fine on Google for abusing its monopoly

Isaac Cain
June 27, 2017

Google is most likely getting a massive slap on its wrist in the form of a record fine by EU's powerful antitrust regulator as early as this week.

The case is one of three against Google and of several against blockbuster USA companies including Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and McDonald's. If it does happen, it would break the previous record of Euro 1.06 billion set in 2009 against Intel.

Google has been accused of manipulating its search engine results to favour its new shopping service at the expense of smaller price-comparison websites.

It gave the Mountain View, California, company 90 days to stop or face fines of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide turnover of parent company Alphabet.

The investigation dates back to 2010, and was triggered by complaints from other price-comparison websites that said Google had relegated their services in its search results. While a hefty fine is expected, the commission also has the ability to make - or at least try to make - Google change its practices.

Google has said regulators ignored competition from online retailers Amazon and eBay Inc.

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As for the proportion of the fine, well, companies that are proved guilty of infringing European Union antitrust rules can be fined as much as 10 percent of their global turnover.

However, the fine is not expected to reach such epic proportions.

Complainants allege that Google demotes competitors' offerings in search rankings and artificially inserts its own service in a box above all other search results, regardless of their relevance.

In the Google case, some large USA companies, including Yelp Inc., complained alongside European firms to the EU about the company's behavior in the hopes that Brussels would take action.

The EU's investigation focuses on how Google shows searches for products, a lucrative market that links consumers to retailers.

But in each case intense pressure by national governments, rivals and privacy advocates scuppered the effort.

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