EU Hits Google With Record $2.7B Antitrust Fine

Reuters reports:

EU antitrust regulators hit Alphabet unit Google with a record 2.42-billion-euro ($2.7 billion) fine on Tuesday, taking a tough line in the first of three investigations into the company’s dominance in searches and smartphones.

It is the biggest fine the EU has ever imposed on a single company in an antitrust case, exceeding a 1.06-billion-euro sanction handed down to U.S. chipmaker Intel in 2009.

The European Commission said the world’s most popular internet search engine has 90 days to stop favoring its own shopping service or face a further penalty per day of up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily global turnover.

The fine, equivalent to 3 percent of Alphabet’s turnover, is the biggest regulatory setback for Google, which settled with U.S. enforcers in 2013 without a penalty after agreeing to change some of its search practices.

Via press release from the European Commission:

Google has systematically given prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service: when a consumer enters a query into the Google search engine in relation to which Google’s comparison shopping service wants to show results, these are displayed at or near the top of the search results.

Google has demoted rival comparison shopping services in its search results: rival comparison shopping services appear in Google’s search results on the basis of Google’s generic search algorithms. Google has included a number of criteria in these algorithms, as a result of which rival comparison shopping services are demoted.

Evidence shows that even the most highly ranked rival service appears on average only on page four of Google’s search results, and others appear even further down. Google’s own comparison shopping service is not subject to Google’s generic search algorithms, including such demotions.

As a result, Google’s comparison shopping service is much more visible to consumers in Google’s search results, whilst rival comparison shopping services are much less visible.