After nearly a decade of Google being accused of alleged abuse of its power by the European Union, a climax has been reached. Google has been fined a whopping $2.7 billion. Although the fine doesn’t come as a shock, the amount does. It was initially expected to be more in the region of $1 billion.
The case, which is known as an antitrust case, is based upon the EU investigating Google for ‘abusing its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors’. This is a practice that Google strongly denies. but have been found guilty of never the less. Under EU antitrust rules this is an illegal practice as it is deemed grossly unfair on Googles rivals and an abuse of power by the U.S giant. Google has now been ordered to stop all anti-competitive practices within 90 days, although the specifics of what they are expected to do has not been outlined by the EU commission, who have seen fit to let Google determine what changes they need to make to their shopping services themselves.
Google are disputing the charges and are currently thinking of appealing. They believe that the case against them was weak and that no concrete evidence of antitrust was ever produced. They argued that there was more than enough competition, naming Amazon and eBay as fellow large competitors. In a blog post released by Google shortly after the ruling, they maintained their belief in their actions and advised that their current shopping results ‘useful’ and ‘much improved’ and of benefit to everyone from themselves, to consumers and to advertisers.
Obviously a fine of this size is affordable for Google’s parent Alphabet, but this is a huge dent to their good reputation. Some are taking the view that Google have been ‘made an example of’ by the EU. That they are sending a message out to all large U.S. tech firms that they are not too big to be put into place. Many are calling for Googles compliance to be supervised going forward. Google may well retaliate by pulling its shopping search from Europe. This would not be the first time that they have reacted in such a way after shutting down Google news in Spain, following a dispute over what they regarded as unfair copyright laws.