EU slams Google with record 2.42 billion-euro fine for tampering with search results

WION Web Team Brussels, Belgium Jun 27, 2017, 10.57 AM(IST)

Google settled with U.S. enforcers a requirement to stop "scraping" reviews and other data from rival websites for its own products in 2013 (Representative Image) (Image Source: Flickr) Photograph:( Others )

European union antitrust regulators slammed Google's Alphabet unit with 2.42-billion-euro ($2.7 billion) fine, on allegations that the world's most popular internet search engine favours its own shopping services and did not exercise a healthy competition with rivals.

The European Commission said that Google has 90 days to stop its unfair practices or Alphabet shall face a further penalty of up to 5 per cent of it's average daily global turnover.

After a seven-year long investigation, the Commission found that Google had systematically given prominent placement in searches to its own comparison shopping service -- Google Shopping, and demoted those of rivals in search results.

"What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

It is the biggest regulatory setback for Google, which settled with US enforcers in 2013 with a requirement to stop "scraping" reviews and other data from rival websites for its own products.

The hard fine, which is the largest for a single company in an EU antitrust case, exceeding the 1.06-billion-euro sanction handed down to US chipmaker Intel in 2009, hints that EU will be just as tough with Google in the two other cases.

The EU competition enforcer has charged Google with using its Android mobile operating system to crush rivals, a case that could potentially be the most damaging for the company, with the system used in most smartphones.

The company has also been accused of blocking rivals in online search advertising, with the Commission warning of deterrent fines if Google is found guilty of breaching EU rules. 

Google has released a statement, denying the allegations.

($1 = 0.8890 euros)

(With inputs from Reuters)