Google has been fined yet again by European antitrust regulators. The search giant copped a €1.49 billion fine (AU$2.38 billion) for the illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts.
The ruling said the company was abusing its market dominance by limiting competition when selling text ads on search results for third-party websites. Google used exclusivity clauses to prevent websites from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages if they were using its Adsense for Search product.
Margrethe Vestager EU Commissioner, head of competition policy said, “Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites.
“This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition.”
The EU said the fine has been calculated on the basis of the value of Google’s revenue from online search advertising intermediation in the European Economic Area.
Google’s EU fine bill has now tipped over the €8 billion mark after a series of antitrust fines in recent years.
Kent Walker, SVP of global affairs at Google said in a statement to Engadget, “We’ve always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone’s interest.
“We’ve already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission’s concerns. Over the next few months, we’ll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe.”
This is not the first EU fine the search engine giant has been given this year, in January it was handed a €50 million (AU$79 million) fine from the French data protection watchdog for failing to comply with GDPR.
Google recently made changes to its search results after a €2.42 billion fine from the EU over abusing its market dominance in shopping search results. A number of companies complained, saying it was favouring its own brand over other websites.
Recently, the technology giant made changes to its Android software, allowing users to pick their preferred search browser and search apps after it was fined €4.34 billion last year by the EU commission for breaking antitrust laws.
The EU said Google engaged in anti-competitive behaviour by imposing contractual restrictions on smartphone manufacturers and mobile network operators using the Android platform to ensure it maintained its search engine dominance.