Alphabet Inc’s unit Google was fined 1.49 billion euros ($ 1.7 billion) on Wednesday, its third major European Union antitrust penalty in two years, marking the company’s regulatory battle in Europe.
However, the EU antitrust chief cautiously welcomed Google’s moves to boost competition and offer Android users a selection of browsers and search apps, suggesting that the company’s regulatory issues could be coming to a head. its end.
The European Commission, which said the fine amounted to 1.29 percent of Google’s turnover in 2018, said the case focused on the company’s illegal practices in search advertising intermediation from 2006 to 2016.
“Today’s decision is about how Google abused its domain to stop websites using agents other than the AdSense platform,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a news conference.
She said her actions meant that advertisers and website owners had fewer options and likely faced higher prices that would later be passed on to consumers. The case involved websites, such as newspapers or travel sites, with a feature. search engine that produces search results and search ads. AdSense for Google Search provided those search ads.
The misconduct included preventing publishers from serving competitors’ search ads on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on these pages for Google ads and a requirement to seek Google’s written approval before to make changes to the way rival ads were displayed. .
The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft Corp in 2010. The two companies subsequently withdrew their complaints against each other in 2016.
Google said it was taking steps to comply with EU requests in two previous cases, one of which concerned its Android mobile operating system, which resulted in a record € 4.34 billion fine last year, while the comparison shopping case led to a fine of 2.42 billion euros.
“We have always agreed that healthy and prosperous markets are in everyone’s interest.” We have already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission’s concerns, “said Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs, in a statement. “In the coming months, we will make further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe,” he added.
Vestager welcomed the move, saying: “We see positive developments for both purchases and Android.” Google’s enemy, the Competitive Online Marketplace Initiative, said regulators must remain vigilant.
Competitors have withered or died. It is time for the EU and governments around the world to step in and address the underlying problem, “said its president, Michael Weber, in a statement.