The EU’s antitrust body confirmed in a press release it has fined Google’s parent company $2.7 billion for what it believes is unfair treatment of its own search services over its rivals. As a market leader in internet search, Google is giving an unfair and illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said:
“Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives. That’s a good thing. But 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 operates a comparison shopping service in Europe, now called “Google Shopping,” which allows consumers to compare products and prices online and search deals from online retailers of all types. The service started in 2004, and it wasn’t until 2008 that Google made a push for its comparison shopping service and made its own comparison shopping service more prominent in search results by higher placements in the results.
Market dominance by itself isn’t illegal under antitrust rules, but companies with a market leading position have a responsibility not to abuse their position by restricting competition — whether it be in the market where they are dominant or in separate markets. The company now has nine days to end its abuse or face penalty payments of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet.