Google ‘considering an appeal’ after record €2.42bn EU fine

27 Jun 2017

European Commission. Image: Xavier Pironet/Shutterstock

Google has been hit with a record fine by the EU, and this has obviously not gone down well with the tech giant.

The European Commission’s (EC) decision to fine Google €2.42bn (more than double its previous record antitrust fine) has provoked a swift response.

Claiming that its search engine vehicle is there to benefit all sellers, not one in particular, Kent Walker, SVP and general counsel of Google, disagreed with almost everything the EC stated earlier today (27 June).

Future Human

The EC slammed Google for “abusing dominance as a search engine by giving [an] illegal advantage to [its] own comparison-shopping service”, with further penalties a possibility.

The tech giant argues otherwise.


Quick and easy

“When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily,” said Walker, “and advertisers want to promote those same products.

“That’s why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.”

Walker thinks today’s decision shows that the EC “underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections”.

Google said its data shows that users don’t even want price-comparison websites, which are at the core of today’s decision. Rather, they want answers through search – hence, no need for a double-up.

It even goes so far as to say that European merchants use Google’s search engine presentation to better compete with the likes of eBay and Amazon, the latter of which it lauds for its sheer size and success.

Contentious point

Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner, today said: “Google’s strategy for its comparison-shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals.

“Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison-shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.”

Calling this illegal under EU antitrust rules, Vestager said that Google essentially 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.”

This has been argued, quite clearly, by Walker.

“When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you’re looking for,” he explained.

“Our ability to do that well isn’t favouring ourselves, or any particular site or seller – it’s the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback.

“Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”

European Commission. Image: Xavier Pironet/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic