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Google fined $1.7 billion for search ad blocks in third EU sanction

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Google fined $1.7 billion for search ad blocks in third EU sanction

By Foo Yun Chee

 

2019-03-20T171904Z_5_LYNXNPEF2J0YO_RTROPTP_4_EU-GOOGLE-ANTITRUST.JPG

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager talks to the media at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

 

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc unit Google was fined 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) on Wednesday, its third large European Union antitrust penalty in two years marking the company's decade-long regulatory battle in Europe.

 

The EU antitrust chief, however, gave a cautious welcome to Google's measures to boost competition and give Android users a choice of browsers and search apps, suggesting the company's regulatory woes may be coming to an end.

 

The European Commission, which said the fine amounted to 1.29 percent of Google's turnover in 2018, said that the case focused on the company's illegal practises in search advertising brokering from 2006 to 2016.

 

"Today's decision is about how Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a news conference.

 

She said its actions meant advertisers and website owners had less choice and likely faced higher prices that would then be passed on to consumers.

 

The case concerned websites, such as of newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and search adverts. Google's AdSense for Search provided such search adverts.

 

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on these pages for Google's adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to how rival adverts were displayed.

 

THRIVING MARKETS

The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft Corp in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

 

Google said it was taking action to comply with EU orders in two previous cases, one of which concerned its Android mobile operating system that resulted in a record 4.34 billion euro fine last year while the shopping comparison case led to a 2.42 billion euro fine.

 

"We've always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest. We've already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission's concerns," Kent Walker, senior vice-president of global affairs, said in a statement.

 

"Over the next few months, we'll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe," he added.

 

Vestager welcomed the move, saying: "We see positive developments both in the shopping and Android case.".

 

Google's foe, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, said regulators should stay vigilant.

 

"Competitors have withered or died. It's time for the EU and governments around the world to step in and address the underlying wrong," its chairman Michael Weber said in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop/Alexander Smith and Emelia Sithole-Matarise; Editing by Richard Chang)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-03-21
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Sergey to Larry: hey larry, where did you put that petty cash box mate? we have to get some out of it and pay for this silly fine...

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3 hours ago, Cryingdick said:

This is the first step into regulatory hell for GOOGL

Except in the USA where the authorities are completely supine. And not in relation to taxes any time soon.

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50 minutes ago, car720 said:

They would be equal to those that impose sanctions on Chinese companies for doing the wrong thing.

Sanctions are a whole lot different to fines. Perhaps they might impose sanctions on Google should Google not pay the fine.

And pray tell, what "wrong" things might those inscrutable Chinese do to the EU?

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8 minutes ago, Becker said:

Because the bosses of Google won't risk the access the company has to hundreds of millions of relatively well heeled potential costumers. That would be as economically moronic as Brexit and the aforementioned bosses aren't idiots, so they'll huff and puff and in the end pay the fine and move on.

Google wanna play in the EU? Fine, but then they'll have to play by EU rules and that means taking the medicine when it's dished out.

 

So are you saying all member countries of the EU will follow the direction of the Brussels EU bureaucrats to try to "block" Google? I would like to see that.

All because Google selfishly did not allow it's competitors to advertise under their banner. Not unreasonable I would have thought.

In any case the EU has just about seen it's day; with all it's freeloading fatcats it's living on borrowed time. It only needs a for a few more countries to wake up and bail out or the economies of a few more countries like Italy and Greece fall apart. The EU is at death's door and Brexit grand finale will trigger it's demise.

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Posted (edited)

Let’s come back to this the next time we hear the accusation that the EU is a ‘globalist’ organization working for big businesses and multinational corporations against the interests or ordinary working people.

 

 

 

Edited by Chomper Higgot
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34 minutes ago, Cadbury said:

So are you saying all member countries of the EU will follow the direction of the Brussels EU bureaucrats to try to "block" Google? I would like to see that.

All because Google selfishly did not allow it's competitors to advertise under their banner. Not unreasonable I would have thought.

In any case the EU has just about seen it's day; with all it's freeloading fatcats it's living on borrowed time. It only needs a for a few more countries to wake up and bail out or the economies of a few more countries like Italy and Greece fall apart. The EU is at death's door and Brexit grand finale will trigger it's demise.

Hogwash.

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6 hours ago, Cadbury said:

And who is the EU and those free loading trough feeders in Brussels to impose anything, fines or otherwise, on non members of the EU?

I wasn't aware that Google was a country. 

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6 hours ago, Cadbury said:

And who is the EU and those free loading trough feeders in Brussels to impose anything, fines or otherwise, on non members of the EU?

It's peanuts compared to the fines imposed by the USA on foreign companies for their activities outside USA......

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