EU Commission Fines Google $1.7B For Violating Antitrust Rules

Roman Schwartz
March 21, 2019

The European Commission opened the most recent case against Google in 2016, accusing the search engine of preventing third parties using its AdSense product from displaying search advertisements from Google's competitors. Google alleged that the company phased these exclusivity arrangements out in 2009 replacing them with "premium placement" clauses which guaranteed the most profitable spaces in search results were given to Google ads.

This is third major European Union fine that the search giant has incurred in two years and the latest case accuses the United States company of abusing its market dominance by restricting third-party rivals from displaying search ads between 2006 and 2016.

It comes a year after the EC fined Google €4.34bn (£3.72bn) for abusing its market position and making rivals' browsers less accessible.

The company is accused of breaching EU competition laws between 2006 and 2016, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said in Brussels on Wednesday morning. Adsense serves up online commercials through a search function built into everyday websites, such as news sites.

Google has had a tough time in Europe lately, having to deal with not one but two anti-trust multi-billion dollar fines, and facing additional inquiries into its business practices.

"We've already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission's concerns", said Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president of Global Affairs.

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Google has been hit with a €1.49bn (£1.28bn) fine for abusing its dominant online advertising market position.

Google made the adjustments shortly before a €1.49 (£1.28) fine was handed down by European regulators on Wednesday.

"Google's rivals were unable to grow and offer alternative online search advertising intermediation services to those of Google", it said.

Therefore, Google first imposed an exclusive supply obligation, which prevented competitors from placing any search adverts on the commercially most significant websites. You won't leave Ars Technica; instead you'll get a customized version of Google Search embedded in arstechnica.com, complete with Google Ads above the results. The case revolves around search boxes that are embedded on websites - and that display ads brokered by Google.

"When I cite the numbers that we have now and the intentions from Google in the Android decision, we don't have a non-compliance issue as of now", she told a press conference.

The European Commission previous year handed Google a record 4.34 billion euro ($4.9 billion) fine for using the market power of its mobile software to block rivals in areas such as internet browsing.

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