Google fined record $2.7 billion in European antitrust case

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Margrethe Vestager, the European Union's Competition Commissioner said: "What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules".

NY [U.S.A.], June 28: European Union (EU) regulators penalised U.S. tech giant Google a record United States dollars 2.7 billion antitrust fine on Tuesday, for denying "consumers a genuine choice" by using its search engine to unfairly steer them to its own shopping platform. Macquarie Research thinks that while the practice probably is unfair, the fine severely limits Google's ability to refine and improve its core product, which could mean big headwinds for Google in Europe.

Google says they will appeal the ruling.

According to the European Commission (EC), the executive arm of the EU, Google systematically gave prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service over the results of competitors. "The Commission confirmed that consumers do not see what is most relevant for them on the world's most used search engine but rather what is best for Google", said Monique Goyens, the Director General of European Union consumer group, BEUC.

It's also been given 90 days to "end the conduct" or face ongoing fines of up to $18 million a day or roughly 5% of its daily revenue.

Margrethe Vestager, a commissioner responsible for competition policy, said: "Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives".

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The EU believes Google is "abusing" its search engine dominance by ranking its own services ahead of competitors. The product allows consumers to compare products and prices online, as well as find deals from online retailers and resellers. Google chose to give preference to Google Shopping offerings in search engine results to gain traction with customers.

"Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay".

Google's own response in an official blog post is that it "respectfully disagree with the conclusions a and will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal".

The Google fine could also set an important precedent for other Google services, such as for images, news and travel, that have also received complaints from rivals.

Meanwhile, other American tech companies that are rivals of Google have cheered on the European regulators against Google.

The commission said traffic to Google's shopping service jumped 45-fold in the United Kingdom, while some rival sites saw visitor numbers plunge 85 per cent. One concerns the Android operating system, the other AdSense.

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