Alphabet Inc unit Google has been fined $1.7 billion (1.49 billion euros) on Wednesday. This is the company’s third-largest European union antitrust penalty in the last two years. It marks the company’s ten years long regulatory battle in Europe.
The European Union antitrust chief has given a cautious welcome to the company’s measures to encourage competition and allow Android users a choice of search apps and browsers. This move suggests that Google’s regulatory woes might end soon.
The fine comes to about 1.29 percent of Google’s turnover last year according to the European Commission. The case concentrated on the illegal practices used by the company from 2006 to 2016 in search of advertising brokering.
According to Margrethe Vestager, the European Competition Commissioner at a news conference announced that the decision is related to how Google took advantage of its dominance in the market to stop websites from using other brokers besides AdSense platform.
She also mentioned that Google’s actions mean that website owners and advertisers had no choice and had to face higher prices that were then passed on to customers.
The case was related to websites like travel or newspaper sites which had a search function which would produce search adverts and search results. Such search adverts were provided by Google’s AdSense.
The misconduct by Google included preventing publishers from using search adverts from competitors on their result pages. This forced them to keep the most profitable space on the pages for Google’s adverts. It also forced them to get written approval from Google before they could make any changes as to how the rival adverts would be displayed.
The AdSense advertising case was initiated by a complaint filed by Microsoft Corp in 2010. However, both the companies dropped their complaints against one another in 2016.
Google announced that it would be taking action to comply with the European Union’s order in previous cases. One of the cases dealt with the company’s Android operating system that led to a 4.34 billion euro fine last year.
According to Kent Walker, the Senior Vice President of Global Affairs, healthy and thriving markets are best for everyone. Walker also said that changes have already been made to the products in order to comply with the Commission’s instructions. He also mentioned that further updates would be announced in the future to offer more visibility to competitors in Europe. Vestager was happy with this move and hopes to see positive development in the Android and shopping case.