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US tech giant Google has appealed an EU fine of 1.49 billion euros ($1.69 billion) for unfair practices through misuse of its dominant position, a source close to the case said.
The European Commission continues to shine a light upon Alphabet Google and its alleged monopoly abuse. EU regulators brought a third antitrust charge against the online search giant on Thursday, July 14, accusing Google of blocking rivals in the lucrative online search advertising market.
The European Commission has once again highlighted the fact that Google, the world’s most popular internet search engine, favors its own shopping service in search results, resulting in an unfair market for its competitors to operate in. The new charge against Google accuses the company of abusing its dominant position by “artificially preventing third-party websites from displaying search advertisements from its competitors,” says an NBC News report.
“Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. Bu that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate,” said Margrethe Vestager, European Competition Commissioner, at a news conference in Brussels, Belgium.
The accusations relate to Google’s ‘AdSense for Search’ platform, in which Google acts as an intermediary for websites such as online retailers, telecom operators or news websites, with searches producing results that include search ads.
Vestager, a former Danish economy minister who took over as the EU’s powerful antitrust commissioner in late 2014, has acted as a voice for the EU on the issue, and insists she is simply applying the law and promoting free competition. She has applied aggressiveness to the investigation in an attempt to make more of an impact.
“We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third-party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation,” said Vestager.
The EU’s consistent pursuit of Google, along with other major U.S. multinationals over tax issues and data control, has stirred no small amount of controversy in the U.S., with President Barack Obama speaking out last year, accusing Europe of veering toward protectionism.
But the EU hasn’t given up on its mission of fairness in business. Google’s AdWords and Ad Sense programs have reportedly been on the Commission’s radar since 2010, after Google’s rivals raised the issue, complaining about unfair advertising exclusivity clauses and undue restrictions on other advertisers. The two programs are the backbone of Google’s business which posted about $75 billion in revenue last year.
The European Commission also claims that Google had abused its dominant position in the search engine market by systematically favoring its comparison shopping service in its search pages. The charge for breaching the EU’s antitrust rules could see Google facing fines up to 10 percent of its global turnover for each case.
Google has stood its ground, saying it increased choice for European consumers. “We’ll examine the Commission’s renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks,” said a Google spokesperson.