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Google fined $2.7bn by European Commission

European regulators find Google abused dominance in search to unfairly promote its shopping service

Google fined $2.7bn by European Commission
The EU Commission found that Google has abused its dominant position in search to unfairly promote Google Shopping.

Google has been hit with a record fine of 2.42bn euros ($2.7bn) for breaching European anti-competitions rules.

The European Commission found that Google's promotion of its own shopping comparison service through Google search results breached European competition law.

Results for the Google Shopping service showed top of Google search results, which the EC said was abuse of its market-leading position in search. Rival shopping comparison sites were also demoted by Google's search algorithm, so that users were less likely to see links to rivals.

Google will now have 90 days to make changes to how it promotes the Shopping service, or face further fines that could reach 5% of its daily worldwide earnings.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, said in a statement: "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.

"What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation."

The EU ruling found against Google on two grounds, that Google has systematically given prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service; and that it has demoted rival comparison shopping services in its search results. 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.

The EU said that since 2008, it has been Google's strategy to promote Google Shopping through changes to the search algorithm. The size of the fine, a record for EU anti-competition rulings, was due to the scale and duration of the abuse.

Google has said that it may appeal the ruling.

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