Google fined €1.49bn by European Union for advertising violations

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Google has fallen foul of EU competition rules before. Jaap Arriens Nur

Freshfields partner Dr Andreas von Bonin said: "Given that this fine is significantly smaller than the previous fine handed out to Google and that the company has already factored in the impact of displaying competitor search ads, it's unlikely it will inflict any lasting damage".

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search ads from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on these pages for Google's ads, and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to how rival ads were displayed.

Investigators found that Google inserted exclusivity clauses in its contracts that barred these websites from running similarly placed ads sold by Google's rivals. Websites such as newspaper websites, blogs or travel sites aggregators often have a search function embedded, the Commission said.

This is how Google abuses its dominance according to the EU.                  European Competition Commission
This is how Google abuses its dominance according to the EU. European Competition Commission

The EU's powerful anti-trust regulator slapped tech giant Google with a new fine on Wednesday over unfair competition, in Europe's latest salvo against Silicon Valley. "Therefore, third-party websites represent an important entry point for these other suppliers of online search advertising intermediation services to grow their business and try to compete with Google".

European Union antitrust enforcers have asked Google's rivals if it unfairly demotes local search competitors, according to a questionnaire seen by Reuters, a move which could lead to a fourth case.

Following the EU's announcement, Google released a press statement in which Google's SVP of global affairs, Kent Walker, said, "We've always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest".

The announced changes to Google search are meant to help the Sillicon Valley giant avoid a repeat of 2017 when Brussels fined Google 2.4 billion euros for favouring its "Google Shopping" price comparison service in search results.

Wednesday's fine was Google's third from the alliance in the past two years. Google had abused its dominant position to "shield itself" from the full force of competition, which had deprived the EU's 500 million-plus consumers of the fruits of innovation, she said.

Google said its was testing a new display to search results that would allow certain rivals a more prominent position on results pages.

This time, the issue is with websites who signed a contract with Google to put a search box on their website.

Still, the latest penalty isn't likely to have much effect on Google's business.

In 2018, Vestager took aim at the company's Android smartphone operating system, saying that Google pressured mobile device-makers to pre-install the tech giant's apps.

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