Google Fined £2.1bn for Skewing Searches
Ashley Allen / 2 years ago
Following a ruling by the European Commission (EC), Google must pay a record fine of €2.4 billion (£2.1bn) for promoting its own shopping services. The company is accused of skewing Google searches in its own favour. In addition, Google must end its anti-competitive practices or face further sanctions.
The EC opines that Google’s practices harm competition and violate European antitrust laws. Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, says:
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It has denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice of services and innovation.”
Of course, Google disputes the charge. In a rebuttal on its blog, Google’s SVP and General Counsel Kent Walker accuses the EC of ignorance. He adds that the company will consider appealing against the ruling. Walker writes:
“When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products. That’s why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.
We believe the European Commission’s online shopping decision underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections. While some comparison shopping sites naturally want Google to show them more prominently, our data shows that people usually prefer links that take them directly to the products they want, not to websites where they have to repeat their searches.
We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago. Showing ads that include pictures, ratings, and prices benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, our users. And we show them only when your feedback tells us they are relevant. Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay.”