Third EU fine in two years for Google as European Commission rules its advertising service broke antitrust rules
Google has once again been hit with a hefty financial penalty from European antitrust regulators, its third such fine in the space of two years.
This latest fine concerns the firm’s AdSense advertising service and this time around Google has been asked to pay 1.49bn euros (£1.3bn).
The fine had been widely anticipated after European officials confirmed last November they were nearing the completion of their investigation into the firm’s AdSense advertising service.
The AdSense investigation began in 2016 when the Commission accused Google of utilising restrictive clauses in its AdSense contracts with third-party websites, which prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites between 2006 and 2016.
Google has since changed its AdSense contracts with large third parties, to give them the ability to display competing search ads.
“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,” stated Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy.
“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,” she added.
“This is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” said Vestager. “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.”
This is the third stiff financial penality that Google has been hit with, in the last couple of years.
Google in 2017 for example was fined 2.4bn euros (£2.01bn) after the Commission ruled that Google had thwarted rivals of shopping comparison websites.
Then in July 2018 the European Commission fined Google a record 4.3 billion euros (£3.83bn) for commercial practices related to its Android mobile operating system, the world’s highest ever antitrust penalty.
These three fines means that Google is facing the possibility of having to pay out nearly 8.2bn euros in total, subject to appeals.