Sunday, 17 December, 2017

European Commission fines Google over online shopping search results

A man holds his smartphone which displays the Google home page in this European Commission fines Google over online shopping search results
Preston Stone | 28 June, 2017, 02:41

The European Union has made a decision to fine Google an unprecedented $2.7 billion after a years-long investigation into the company's comparison-shopping product found that it unfairly favored itself over competitors.

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager gives a press conference on an antitrust case againts USA search engine Google the European Commission in Brussels, on June 27, 2017.

Ending an investigation that began almost seven years ago, the european commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager insisted: "What Google has done is illegal according to the competition rules of the EU".

"That's a good thing". The company has exploited its power by having its own shopping comparison amenities in its search results.

According to the Commission, Google was unfairly promoting Google Shopping while demoting rival comparison services, such that even the most prominent rival service was only appearing on the fourth page.

June 2017 - The EU fines Google a record 2.42 billion euros ($2.72 billion) for breaching antitrust rules with its online shopping service.

"And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation".

The commission's investigation revealed Google's own doubts about the comparison platform, with internal emails from the tech giant in 2006 saying the service "simply doesn't work".

The first proposed settlement was announced by then-Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in February 2013, but swiftly ran into opposition from a range of U.S. and European Union companies.

So from 2008 onward, the Commission found, Google began to change its strategy, relying on its dominance in internet search to systematically place Google Shopping at or near the top of relevant search results.

" The decision shows the exceptionally high standard that dominant businesses such as Google can be held to where otherwise lawful activity can become unlawful simply by virtue of the market share they have, " said Oliver Fairhurst, an associate at Lewis Silkin. Google's stance is that its current shopping results are both useful and much improved over the text-only ads it showed a decade ago. He writes that to use rival companies' services they would have to repeat their search.

"Google and its allies will no doubt continue to press through its lobbying and public relations machine the fiction that any adverse decision amounts to European protectionism", said the letter.

Google has to end the anticompetitive conduct in 90 days or face a potential ongoing additional fine of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide business of its parent company, Alphabet. Though tech companies reportedly contend that European antitrust complaints against Americans are unfair, there's even been a growing chorus in the United States arguing that some of them have gotten too big. He also says that Google searches only look for the lowest prices for that moment and also doesn't incorporate shipping discounts and coupons as other deal sites like DealNews and eBates do.

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