The tech giant found to have manipulated search results to favour its own shopping service...
Google has been fined €2.4 billion after the European Commission ruled that it had "abused its dominant position by systematically favouring” its own services.
The fine is the regulator's largest yet against a company accused of manipulating the market to its own ends, beating a €1bn fine dished out to Intel in 2009.
The case centres around Google Shopping, a price comparison feature on the search engine. The commission's filing stated that users were shown results from Google Shopping “irrespective of [their] merits,” diverting traffic away from rival price comparison sites.
Google now has 90 days to end the anti-competitive practice before it faces a further penalty. This could mean paying as much as 5% of parent company Alphabet's average daily worldwide earnings.
The search giant is likely to appeal the decision, which could delay a final call for years.
Kent Walker, SVP and general counsel for Google, said of today's ruling:
“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 respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case”.
European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said that, while Google's innovative products and services have been "a good thing", the company had “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,” Vestager continued. “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."