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European Antitrust officials have hit Google with an unprecedented $2.7 billion (€2.42 billion) fine. A lengthy seven year investigation was launched in 2010 and revealed that Google has been manipulating search data since 2008.
Google used its search dominance to distort search-engine results to promote its own shopping service at the top of all search results.
“Comparison shopping services rely to a large extent on traffic to be competitive.” European Commission says in a press release.
“The evidence shows that consumers click far more often on results that are more visible, i.e. the results appearing higher up in Google’s search results. More traffic leads to more clicks and generates revenue.”
The Commission says the amount of penalty has been calculated from Google’s income from its comparison shopping service in Europe. Google’s total revenue in the year 2016 was almost $90 Billion.
Apart from the fine, the Commission has ordered Google to “stop its illegal conduct” and anti-competitive practices within the 3-month deadline or warned to face a further penalty of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of the Alphabet, Google’s parent company.”
So now Google will have to change its search ranking algorithm. However, the company can appeal this decision in EU courts to delay the resolution for years.
“We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.” A Google Spokesperson said in a statement.
Google is also facing two other ongoing EU antitrust investigations. One investigation claims that Google Android unfairly forces cellphone manufacturers to preinstall Google services to promote its products over rivals. The other investigation targets its AdSense business. The previous biggest antitrust fine was against U.S. chipmaker Intel in 2009, which was €1 billion.
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