EU Antitrust Regulators Hit Google with Record 2.42 Billion Euro Fine

Latest to join the list of Apple, Facebook, Intel and Microsoft is Google. European antitrust regulators have slapped the search giant with a record fine of 2.42 billion euro (US$ 2.7 billion) following a seven year investigation into its anticompetitive practice of abusing its dominance to favour its own services (Google Shopping in this specific case) over others in search results.

Google and EU Face off (Image courtesy: brandchannel)

The company has been given 90 days to end its illegal conduct or face penalty payments of "up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company." The probe was fueled in part by complaints from Yelp, U.K. shopping website Foundem, Microsoft's Ciao (which was sold to LeGuide Group in 2012) and French search service eJustice back in February 2010.

By analysing 5.2 terabytes of actual search results from Google, the  report goes on to add that the illegal practice boosted traffic to Google Shopping significantly (45% in the UK, 35% in Germany) while rival shopping services suffered substantial loss of traffic due to them being ranked lower in search results. The decision comes close on the heels of a similar verdict in Russia earlier this April where Google had settled with Federal Antimonopoly Service for bundling Android smartphones with Google apps and services, even as European Commission continues to investigate the company's dominant position in Android and its advertising platform AdSense.

Update: Google has officially responded in a blog post, saying the "current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago," and that it respectfully disagrees with the EU's conclusions and will consider a court appeal.

Update: Although Google's parent company Alphabet is considering an appeal, an 8-K filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission earlier today suggests it may not work and that it's prepared to pay the fine and go ahead.

How Google abuses its dominance, according to EU regulators (Image courtesy: European Commission)