Google has been hit with another massive EU fine, the latest for illegal practices in search advertising.
The tech giant was deemed to have gained an unfair advantage over competitors thanks to ‘restrictive clauses in contracts’ with third-party websites. These prevented rival search engines from placing adverts on these websites and meant most sites advertised through Google’s AdSense service.
The Alphabet-owned company was fined €1.49 billion ($1.69 billion) by the European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who believes that the clauses helped to cement Google’s ‘dominant market position’.
The third @Google case: @Google is fined €1,49bn for illegal practices in search advertising brokering to cement its dominant market position. They shouldn’t do that – it denied consumers choice, innovative products and fair prices.
— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) March 20, 2019
The latest fine is the third from the European Union in as many years. Since 2017, the company’s fines tally up to $9.4 billion.
In July 2018, Google was fined a record $5 billion for abusing the dominance of Android. The EU found Google were in the wrong for requiring manufacturers to include Google Search and Chrome on their Android device. They ruled that this restricted competition through the use of its dominance in the mobile market.
In 2017, Google was fined close to $2.5 billion for manipulating search results to promote its own products. According to Engadget, Google are appealing all three anti-trust fines where the company was deemed to have breached regulations.
This fine was lower than the previous two due to Google working with the European Commission since 2016 to change its AdSense policies.
When this case was announced in 2016, EU officials said that preventing AdSense customers from featuring rival search engines on their sites was preventing innovation.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in 2016 on the case:
Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate.
Today, we have further strengthened our case that Google has unduly favoured its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages.
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