Google Fined With €1.5bn For Illegal Online Advertising Practices

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The top competition watchdog of the European Union has announced that a third fine that is worth €1.49 billion (£1.28 billion, $1.69 billion) will be imposed on Google and Alphabet, its parent company,  for illegal online advertising practices.

The European Commission has now imposed Google with a total of €8.25 billion worth of fines in three large cases since 2017.

Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner, announced the penalty today.

Vestager said that Google broke the antitrust rules of the European Union by setting requirements on external websites over the way that they presented their search results, which restricted competition such as those from Yahoo and Microsoft.

In a written statement, Vestager stated: “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: “The misconduct lasted over 10 years.”

The EU commission said that Google stopped website publishers from placing adverts from competitors on their search pages. It also compelled them to set aside the most profitable space on their search pages for the advertisements of Google. Google only started changing its practices in 2016 when the European Commission tabled its concerns.

According to the Commission, the new fine is equivalent to 1.3 percent of the sales of Google in 2018.

Last Tuesday, Kent Walker, the senior vice president of global affairs of Google, responded to the penalty. He said that his company was working “to address the Commission’s concerns.”

In a written statement, he stated: “We’ve always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone’s interest … Over the next few months, we’ll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe.”

Vestager said that her team is also still reviewing Google in two other cases that are related to local search and job search.

In 2018, the commission imposed a fine on the tech giant amounting to €4.34 billion for illegal practices that are related to promoting the dominance of Google on Android phones.

In 2017, it also imposed a €2.42 billion fine on Google for abusing its dominance in online search that are related to comparison shopping.

Last Tuesday, Google announced that it was making some changes to address the concerns of the commission regarding the Android case, in a move that could promote more competition.