The European Union competition watchdog has just fined google a record breaking €2.4 billion (£2.1 billion) for “illegally” promoting its Google Shopping results to feature more prominently above similar comparison results from rivals.
The fine so far the largest ever levied by the European Union against a company for anti trust or abuse of its market dominance position. This is just the latest confrontation over business practices between E.U. regulators and American tech giants.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules, Google has abused its market dominance in its search engine by promoting its own shopping comparison service in its search results, and demoting its competitors” EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. “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.”
The Commission found that Google’s practices meant a huge drop in traffic for rivals once Google Shopping was introduced.
What EU Commission found:
- An 85% drop in the UK
- 92% drop in Germany
- An 80% drop in France
“These sudden drops could not be explained by other factors. Some competitors have adapted subsequently and managed to recover some traffic, but never fully,” the Commission said. However, Google’s traffic went up, it found
Google has however issued statement immediately after the ruling, saying it “respectfully” disagreed and was considering whether to appeal.
“When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products,” the company statement said.
“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 respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today,” it continued. “We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”