GOOGLE lost its biggest regulatory battle yet, getting a record 2.4 billion-euro ($2.7 billion) fine from European Union enforcers who say the search-engine giant skewed results to thwart smaller shopping search services.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google has 90 days to “stop its illegal conduct” and give equal treatment to rival price-comparison services, according to a binding order from the European Commission yesterday.
It’s up to Google to choose how it does this and inform the EU of its plans within 60 days. Failure to comply brings a risk of fines of up to five percent of its daily revenue.
“The more consumers click on comparison shopping results, the more money Google makes,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief.
“This decision requires Google to change the way it operates and to face the consequence of its actions.”
Shares of Mountain View, California-based Google fell 1.5 percent in pre-market trading in New York. They’ve risen 23 percent so far this year.
Vestager’s decision marks the end of a seven-year probe fuelled by complaints from small shopping websites as well as bigger names, including News Corp, Axel Springer SE and Microsoft Corp European politicians have called on the EU to sanction Google or even break it up while US critics claim regulators are targeting successful American firms.
Google’s lawyer Kent Walker said the company respectfully disagrees with the EU’s conclusions and will consider a court appeal, according to a blog post.
“When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily,” Walker said.
“And advertisers want to promote those same products. That’s why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.
“We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago.” — Bloomberg.