European Commission could be about to hit Google with massive €3bn fine

16 May 2016

Google may be about to get hit with a massive antitrust fine

Alphabet-owned search giant Google could face a record antitrust fine of around €3bn from the European Commission over allegations it promoted its shopping service in internet searches at the expense of its rivals.

This would surpass the Commission’s toughest antitrust punishment to date – the €1.1bn fine levied against Intel in 2009.

The maximum fine the Commission can impose is €6.6bn, or 10pc of Google’s annual revenue.

Citing sources close to the situation, The Sunday Telegraph newspaper revealed that EU officials intend to announce the fine before the EU Parliament breaks up for the summer next month.

Google has been accused of unlawfully promoting its own price comparison service while simultaneously relegating smaller rivals and denying them traffic.

An investigation is also underway into alleged monopoly abuse related to Google’s Android smartphone software.

Europe’s tough new stance on antitrust

As well as a heavy fine, Google will be banned from manipulating search results to favour itself and harm rivals.

The European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is likely to reject Google’s arguments that, just because rivals Amazon and eBay are successful, competition is thriving online.

Google could choose to fight the fine but, like Intel, that effort could fail, as in 2014, when the judgment against the chip giant was upheld by the General Court of the European Union.

European Commission image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years