Google Staring Down Likely €3B fine for Antitrust

Posted by at 11:35 am on May 17, 2016


Alphabet subsidiary Google is in line for fines totaling at least €3 billion ($3.4 billion) from the EU for abuse of its monopoly position in search. The European Commission investigation into Google’s search practices dates back to 2010, with officials in Brussels said to be close to issuing its findings and the final penalty, reports The Telegraph. The maximum fine that Google could be hit with for anti-competitive practices is as much as €6.6 billion ($7.5 billion), with the European Commission taking the position that the Mountain View-based company had illegally promoted its own services ahead of the competition in the way it produced search results.

Google, for its part, has lobbied the two Competition Commissioners who have held the position over the seven-year duration of the investigation, even proposing a solution that was ultimately determined to be even worse than its practices at the time the initial allegations were made. In imposing a stiff penalty, a record in the EU for anti-competitive practices by foreign companies trading in the region, it will force Google to alter its prized algorithms, something that it has fought hard against. One of its key defenses, that Amazon and eBay are two examples of competition that continues to thrive despite the way Google’s search results have been presented, was ultimately rejected.

Google joins both Intel and Microsoft in running foul of the EU’s tough anti-competition legislation. Intel, the current record holder for the largest European Commission fine, was fined €1.06 billion for paying computer makers to use its chips instead of AMD’s chips, while Microsoft was pinged for force-feeding Internet Explorer down the throats of customers at the expense of the competition. Ultimately, Microsoft ending up paying more for its non-compliance in applying its proposed fix, costing the company an additional €561 million after claiming that its browser selection screen was inadvertently purged in a software update.

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