Google slapped with massive $1.7 billion antitrust fine – its third in three years

Chris Smith

Reports a few days ago said that Google would receive a new massive fine in Europe, and the EU on Wednesday delivered its latest ruling against the tech giant. This time around we’re looking at a €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) antitrust fine as a result of illegal practices in Google’s AdSense business.

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The EU says that Google abused its dominant position again, this time concerning its AdSense business. The company did it for more than a decade, the European Commission explained, preventing AdSense customers from inking advertising deals with rivals. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager had this to say alongside the judgement:

Today the Commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts. Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition.

Google was slapped with a €4.3 billion ($4.88 billion) antitrust fine last year related to Android, and a €2.4 billion ($2.73 billion) fine the year before for its search business. In total, Google is looking at fines totalling €8.2 billion ($9.31 billion) from the EU in just the last three years. The company has appealed the previous two rulings, and it’s likely to do it again with this new fine.

What’s interesting is that Google earlier this week announced a massive change for Android in Europe that’s meant to appease an earlier ruling by the Commission. Users will soon see prompts that will allow them to select the default Internet browser and search engine on their Android devices. That doesn’t mean the previous fine relating to Google’s Android platform will go away, of course.

The EU’s full ruling on the AdSense antitrust case is available at this link.

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