Google Fined $1.7 Billion Over EU Antitrust, But What Does That Mean?

Google is a dominant force, both in terms of its position as a search engine and in many other aspects of online business. Despite their online dominance, the company is not above the law as they have found out on several occasions in recent years. Recently, Google was fined by the European Union for the third time in three years. Google, which is owned by Alphabet, was recently fined a staggering $1.7 billion by Margrethe Vestager, the European Competition Commissioner. Vestager explained that this was in relation to their AdSense advertising service and the anti-competitive practices used by Google.

She announced the fine in a tweet, citing Google’s illegal practices in search advertising brokering as the reason. Vestager went on to explain to her Twitter followers that Google was denying consumers of fair prices, innovative products, and the right to choose. The conclusion of Vestager’s team was that many websites had restrictive clauses in their contracts with Google, who powered their advertising and search features, that prevented them from hosting advertisements from other search engines. These third-party websites included businesses from many industries, including travel sites and online newspapers.

An infographic was used by the European Commission to give a visual representation of how the third-party websites were displaying Google’s advertisements in their search functions. The infographic showed how Google reserved the best spots for themselves, restricted advertisements from rivals, and controlled the appearance of rival advertisements. The European Commission did not simply jump to the conclusion that this was how Google was conducting the advertising element of their business. In fact, it has taken many years of research to reach this conclusion. They have been collating data since 2006 by reviewing hundreds of contracts that included advertisement clauses. According to their findings, Google began to phase out these restrictive clauses in 2009.

However, this does not mean that Google no longer restricted advertisements on third-party websites using exclusivity arrangements. All they did was to replace the clauses with a new clause; the premium placement clause. This clause imposed similar limitations with respect to the positioning of advertisements with the spaces that are the most profitable reserved only for Google advertisements.

Also in 2009, Google began to introduce further rules and regulations in their contracts with websites. These included demanding that websites seek written approval from Google prior to implementing any changes to the size, the color, and the way that any rival advertisements are displayed. In 2016, Google ceased to make these demands. However, this was months after they had been issued with a statement of objections from the European Commission. This means they did not take immediate action to sort out the situation.

This is only the latest fine that Google has received and follows two previous fines for different issues. The first of these was in September 2017 when they were fined $2.7 billion. This is related to their shopping service. They were then fined a whopping $5 billion, a record fine figure, in July 2018 for their abuse of the dominance of Android. The combined figure of the three fines received by Google so far is a staggering $9.4 billion. However, the search giant is appealing against the 2018 and 2019 fines.

While it is no secret that Google is a successful and profitable company, the latest fine will make a significant dent in the company’s accounts. In fact, it is the equivalent to 1.29% of their 2018 turnover. In relation to the high sum of the fine, Vestager says that the European Commission considers the gravity and duration of any infringement when deciding how much a company is fined. In the case of Google, the infringement lasted for over a decade.

Vestager has also confirmed that the European Commission will continue to monitor the behavior of Google in the marketplace to ensure that no further infringements occur. Despite criticizing the company’s conduct, she did give them praise for the effort they are now putting into complying with rulings. In response to the fines, Kent Walker, the senior vice president of global affairs for Google, has said that Google agrees that it is in everyone’s interest to have healthy and thriving markets. He also stressed that Google has already taken steps to address the complaints of the European Commission and there are more changes in the pipeline.


Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Bryan Cranston
How Bryan Cranston Achieved a Net Worth of $30 Million
Software as a Service
20 Things You Didn’t Know About Coveo
WeFox Group
20 Things You Didn’t Know About Wefox
Eric Breon
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Vacasa CEO Eric Breon
Disney
10 Stocks to Consider if You Like Disney
Twitch
What is TwitchStocks and Should You Join?
Stock Market
10 Stocks to Consider if You Like AMD
Stocks
The 20 Most Undervalued Stocks of 2020
Portugal
The 20 Best Places In the World for Expats to Live
The 20 Best Places to Live in London
The 20 Best Places to Live in Sacramento
Fairway
The 20 Best Places to Live in Kansas
Cliffs of Moher
The 20 Best Things To Do In Ireland For First-Timers
Santa Cruz
The 10 Best Seafood Restaurants in Santa Cruz, CA
The 10 Best Hotels in Corpus Christi, TX
Sausalito
The 10 Best Seafood Restaurants in Sausalito, CA
Awesome Used Cars
20 Awesome Used Cars for Under $10,000
2020 Tesla Model S
The 20 Most Long Range Electric Cars for 2020
lambo
20 Reasons to Consider Getting a Certified Pre-Owned Car
Best 8-Passenger Cars
The 10 Best 8-Passenger Cars for 2020
V1 class auto white
The 20 Best Egard Watches of All-Time
Gamma 2
The 20 Best Reactor Watches In The World
Rado Watches
The 20 Best Rado Watches of All-Time
Flieger Cockpit one 1 Aviatis watch day date Automatic 704.21.18 L.01
The 10 Best Fortis Watches of All-Time