Categories: Regulation

Google ‘Faces £2.3bn EC Fine’ For Alleged Search Dominance Abuse

Google may face a fine of as much as €3 billion (£2.3bn) from the European Commission (EC) over its alleged abuse of search dominance to eradicate online competition in other, more specialised areas, according to a report.

The fine would be the EC’s largest to date – roughly three times the current record €1.1 billion levied against Intel in 2009. The Commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of their annual turnover, which in Google’s case would amount to more than €6.6 billion.

Making an example

The Commission is prepared to announce the results of its six-year investigation before the summer break and the details could be released as early as June, The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday, citing unnamed sources.

The final figure has not yet been finalised, however, according to the paper.

The size of the fine is intended to take account of the long period of time over which Google has abused its monopoly, and may also reflect an intent to make an example of Google for what officials see as its delaying tactics and for changes to its algorithms during the investigation that further hampered competition.

Google is also reportedly to be banned from continuing to block competition, meaning there could be changes to its search algorithms. So far Google has resisted this measure, offering instead to redesign the presentation of results.

Six-year probe

The Commission’s Google antitrust investigation began in 2010 and the company was formally charged last year with illegally promoting its own price-comparisons over those of rivals appearing in its search results.

The Commission has launched a second antitrust investigation into Google’s Android smartphone platform, and competition commissioner Margarethe Vestager said on Friday further such charges could be brought regarding other specialised markets such as travel information and maps.

Google has the option of contesting the Commission’s decision in the European Court of Justice.

The company declined to comment, but in a response to the Commission last year called the charges “unfounded”.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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