London – The European Union Commission on Tuesday slapped technology giant Google with a record fine of 2.42 billion euros or $2.7 billion for breaching European Union (EU) antitrust rules by abusing the monopoly it enjoys over internet search.
Google has hinted that it may appeal against the imposition of the mammoth fine — the biggest ever competition fine in history.
“We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” said a Google spokesperson in response to the ruling.
In the investigation spanning seven years, Google was accused of manipulating its search engine results to favour its new shopping service at the expense of smaller price-comparison websites.
“Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service,” the European Commission said in a statement.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy.
The company must now end the conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5 per cent of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
The penalty has surpassed the previous 1.1 billion euros record fine Intel was forced to pay in 2009 and the EU might also demand that Google make changes to its search results so that it was not seen to favour its own service, telegraph.co.uk reported.
The investigation dates back to 2010, and was triggered by complaints from other price-comparison websites that said Google had relegated their services in its search results.
Google has a 90 per cent share of internet searches in Europe, giving it a powerful tool to direct how internet users navigate the web.
According to Google, its entry into online shopping space has been good for consumers and retailers, and argues that it was not a monopoly player in online shopping.
“When the Commission asks why some comparison websites have not done as well as others, we think it should consider the many sites that have grown in this period — including platforms like Amazon and eBay,” a Google spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Google is also fighting two other competition cases with the Commission that could see it hit with heavy fines.
European regulators have in the past investigated Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon, raising claims that Brussels was waging a war against the Silicon Valley, but the claim has been denied by the Commission.