Monday, 23 April, 2018

EU Fines Google $2.7 Billion

Preston Stone | 29 June, 2017, 09:01

A 7-year investigation by the European Commission concludes that the search engine benefited from an "illegal advantage".

European Union antitrust regulators hit Google with a record 2.4-billion-euro ($2.7 billion) fine for favouring its own shopping service, taking a tough line in the first of three probes of its dominance in searches and smartphone operating systems.

The EU slapped Google with a record 2.4-billion-euro anti-trust fine on Tuesday, in a fresh assault on a United States tech giant that risks the wrath of President Donald Trump. Vestager brushed off suggestions that the move could harm transatlantic relations, adding that the European Union was not willing to give Google a "free pass".

A consumer using the firm's online search engine now sees results from Google Shopping promoted above the most relevant search results.

Europe's competition watchdog began investigating Google Shopping seven years ago, after complaints the internet giant gave the service a prominent position in its search results while rival services were demoted.

A statement from Google says: "We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today".

New cyberattack causes mass disruption in Europe
Meanwhile, Kapersky Lab researchers have noted that the ransomware used in the assault may not even use the Petya virus at all. Researchers say hackers used a code known as "Eternal Blue", which is believed to be stolen from the U.S.

"We've had many exchanges with Google to hear their views", Vestager said.

Under the ruling, Google has 90 days to change its practices or face a fine of up to 5pc of global daily turnover. "It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate". European politicians have called on the EU to sanction Google or even break it up, while United States critics claim regulators are targeting successful U.S. firms. That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.

The fine is the highest ever imposed in Europe for anti-competitive behaviour, exceeding a 1.06 billion euros penalty on Silicon Valley chip maker Intel in 2009.

The company will review the decision and consider an appeal.

The biggest risk to Google is not the fine but the changes demanded to its business, said Richard Windsor, an independent financial analyst who tracks competition among the biggest USA and Asian internet and mobile companies. The EU has two other investigations now open into Google's business practices in other services: one involving its Android operating system and another concerning its AdSense service.

"Today's decision is a precedent which establishes the framework for the assessment of the legality of this type of conduct", the commission said.

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