EU hits Google with a record-breaking fine

Update: The European Union has fined Google €2.42 billion (£2.14 billion) — a record-breaking amount — for unfairly using its search engine to direct users towards its shopping services. The tech giant could also face civil action by any affected person or business for damages. The now seven-year fight isn’t over yet, since Google has denied the EU’s findings and showed intentions to appeal. 

EU hits Google with a record-breaking fine

The seven-year standoff between the European Union and Google could end in August with a flair of corporate drama.

Up to £5 billion worth of drama, to be exact. 

EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager is making a final decision on an antitrust case against the tech giant, according to the New York Times.  

Since early 2015, three separate EU investigations looking into Google’s possible antitrust actions resulted in charges. One investigation focuses on the company using its search services to steer users toward its own products and services, while another claims its advertising products restrict consumers’ choices. The third concerns Android which, according to the EU, is unfairly pre-installed with Google services like its search engine.  

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Google’s troubles are reminiscent of an antitrust case against Intel, which resulted in a £9 million fine issued in 2008 and upheld after the company appealed in 2014. At the time, the fine was the largest antitrust penalty mandated by the EU and gave the government body a chance to bear its teeth as a mediator of online global business.

Google’s possible fine would nearly double Intel’s and could be equal to 10% of the company’s annual global revenue. Google’s operations in the region may be regulated to give Google’s rivals and competitors a fair playing field in the online search market that the company holds a 90% share in.

Despite it all, Google has protested its innocence since the beginning and cited users’ satisfaction and business’s competitive nature as the reason the company’s developments are not egregious.

“We’re confident these cases will ultimately be decided based on the facts and that this analysis will show our product innovations have benefited consumers and merchants, and expanded competition,” writes Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president and general counsel, in a blog post. “The surest signs of dynamic competition in any market are low prices, abundant choices, and constant innovation.”

If the report is correct, we’ll know soon whether Google will end up 10% poorer and babysat across Europe. This saga still has a little further to run.

Top Image: Friends of Europe, used under Creative Commons 

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