Google's ad violations land it a $1.7bn EU fine

The latest fine is the third penalty for anticompetitive behavior in two years for the search giant, bringing the total sum of charges against it to $9.4bn


Google has been fined €1.49bn ($1.7bn) by the EU for advertising violations, bringing the total amount the tech colossus has been fined to €8.24bn ($9.4bn) over the past two years.

The European Commission (EC) accused Google of abusing its monopoly in online advertising by coercing businesses to sign if they wanted to use the firm's technology for search functions on their websites. The EC also alleged that, while companies could run adverts alongside those results using Google's AdSense for Search, Google forced out its competitors.

"The EC has fined Google €1.49bn for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts," said EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager. "Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anticompetitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted more than 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition."

Google's anticompetitive measures included preventing publishers from placing search adverts from competitors on their results pages and pressuring them to place Google adverts in the most profitable space on their pages. It also required companies to get written approval from Google before making changes to how rival adverts appeared on their page.

In 2017, Google was fined a then record-breaking €2.4bn ($2.7bn) after regulators accused it of altering search results to obstruct smaller shopping search services. It then received a €4.3bn ($4.9bn) penalty in July 2018 for its Android mobile phone operating system and was ordered to change the way it puts search and web browser apps on Android devices.

Regarding the latest fine, Google has not been participating in these unfair practices since 2016, so as long as it does not begin implementing exclusivity requirements again it should not be further penalized on the matter.

The fine represents 1.3% of the company's 2018 turnover.

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