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Google Faces Record-Breaking €1 Billion EU Fine

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

The fine would be the culmination of a seven year investigation

Web giant Google is reportedly facing a €1 billion (£875m) fine from the European Commission (EC) for abusing its dominant position in the online search market.

The EC has so far declined to comment, but is expected to make an announcement within the coming weeks condemning Google for manipulating search results to favour its price comparison shopping service.

The fine would mark the culmination of a long-term investigation lasting several years into alleged anti-competition practices by one of the biggest companies on the planet.

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Massive fine

Google has been the subject of several antitrust investigations carried out by Brussels officials over the last few years, stemming from complaints put forward by the likes of Microsoft and News Corp in 2009.

At one point a €3 billion (£2.3bn) fine was reportedly on the cards after the long period of time over which Google has abused its monopoly was taken into account and towards the end of 2016 it paved the way for a showdown with the European Union by formally rejecting all charges against it.

The EC is also working on a separate antitrust investigation into Google’s conduct regarding the Android operating system, although Google has recently gained public support in this matter from BT over fears that any move to weaken Android could hand more power to Apple.

According to The Financial Times, several of its biggest, along with senior politicians in Paris and Berlin, have been encouraging Europe’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager to come down strong on Google.

However, such a move would renew tensions after Apple was ordered by the EC to pay a €13 billion (£11bn) tax bill last year.

If it goes through, Google’s fine would be a record-breaking one. It is capped at a maximum of 10 percent of parent company Alphabet’s $90 billion (£70.5bn) revenues from 2016 and “up to 30 percent of Google’s shopping revenues times the number of years of the abuse”. 

No timeline has yet been provided, but the fine would undoubtedly have serious implications for the operations of Google and other tech companies.

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