EU fines Google €2.42B for anti-competitive behaviour

The EU had been expected to fine Google a little over €1B for its anti-competitive practice of promoting its own shopping service over competitors' in search results: today's €2.42B comes as a surprise, as does the ongoing fine if it fails to change its behavior within 90 days -- up to €10.6m a day, or 5% of parent company Alphabet's total daily earnings.

The EU is carrying out further investigations into Google's anti-competitive practices and monopolistic position, including its dominance in "maps, images and information on local services."

The EU took these actions in spite of the US FTC abandoning its investigation into monopolistic practices in 2013 -- this is part of a wider pattern in the USA, where monopolism has been a drag on the national economy, harming all but especially poor people and black people, with support from Democrats as well as Republicans.

The EU action was driven by the Dutch politician Margrethe Vestager, head of the EU’s directorate general for competition, who has also gone after Apple for its Irish tax-evasion scheme, and is presently investigating "Amazon.com, Fiat, Gazprom, Google, McDonald’s, and Starbucks."

Google says it will appeal.

As the EU official in charge of competition policy, commissioner Margrethe Vestager, spelled out the case against Google, she denied accusations that Brussels had a bias against US firms, claiming the tech giant had been guilty of an “old school” form of illegality.

“Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives. That’s a good thing,” Vestager told reporters, as she announced the fine, the largest ever made in an antitrust case. “But Google’s strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals.

“Instead, Google 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. 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.”

Google fined record €2.4bn by EU over search engine results [Daniel Boffey/The Guardian]

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