Google has been fined $2.7 billion by the European Union for giving an “illegal advantage” to its own services in search results.
The EU believes Google is “abusing” its search engine dominance by ranking its own services ahead of competitors. Google has 90 days to change its practices in Europe or else it will face even further penalties.
This unprecedented decision is the culmination of a seven-year investigation. Google’s comparison shopping service has been the primary focus of the investigation, as the EU believes it is being unfairly positioned above rival comparison shopping services.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager stated in a press release:
“… Google’s strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals. Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.”
Google has refuted the EU’s claims since day one, and released a statement of its own following the landmark decision.
Ken Walker, Google’s general counsel, states:
“We believe the European Commission’s online shopping decision underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections. While some comparison shopping sites naturally want Google to show them more prominently, our data shows that people usually prefer links that take them directly to the products they want, not to websites where they have to repeat their searches.”
While addressing the EU’s allegations, Walker points to competitive online shopping destinations like Amazon and eBay, which have grown throughout the period of this investigation.
As it “respectfully” disagrees with the EU’s conclusions, Google will be considering an appeal and will continue to make its case.