Google fined 1.49 bln euros for anti-trust breach by EU

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-20 21:13:00|Editor: xuxin
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BRUSSELS, March 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. internet giant Google on Wednesday received a new fine ticket of 1.49 billion euros (1.69 billion U.S. dollars) from the European Union (EU) for breaching anti-trust rules.

The decision was made due to Google's "illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts," said European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, in a press release.

The European Commission maintained that "Google has abused this market dominance by preventing rivals from competing in the online search advertising intermediation market."

It said Google has provided search advertising to "the most commercially important publishers" via individually negotiated agreements, and the Commission has reviewed hundreds of such agreements.

The findings concluded that Google first required exclusivity by prohibiting the publishers from placing its competitors' search adverts, then asked them to reserve "the most profitable space" for a minimum number of Google adverts.

Google was also discovered to force the publishers to "seek written approval from Google before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed," meaning that Google "could control how attractive, and therefore clicked on, competing search adverts could be," said the Commission.

In July 2016, the Commission sent a warning letter criticizing the company of hindering third party websites to display search advertisements from Google's competitors. The European Commission said Google "ceased the illegal practices a few months after" receiving the letter.

The latest fine accounted for 1.29 percent of Google's turnover in 2018, and the Commission said it has taken account of the duration and gravity of the infringement. It has been the third round of heavy fines on Google by the EU.

In June 2017, the Commission fined Google 2.42 billion euros for offering an illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service, and in July 2018 4.34 billion euros for illegally strengthening its search engine's dominance on Android mobile devices.

Google has been the strongest player in online search advertising intermediation in the European Economic Area (EEA) for more than 12 years. Its market share was above 70 percent from 2006 to 2016, said the European Commission. (1 euro = 1.14 U.S. dollars)