Google hit with EU fine for blocking competitors’ ads

A technician passes by a logo of US internet search giant Google during the opening day of a new Berlin office of Google in Berlin on January 22, 2019. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Google has been hit with a €1.49bn fine from the EU for blocking rival online search advertisers.

The fine was issued after a competition probe ruled that the giant has spent ten years blocking rival advertisers between 2006-2016.

Margarethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said: “The misconduct denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition.

“This is illegal under EU anti-trust laws.”

The case looked into Google’s AdSense business, which allows websites to make money by displaying google ads.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – MARCH 20, 2019 : European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager talks to the media during a news conference on the concurrence case with Google online search advertising, at the Berlaymont, the European Commission on March 20, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. The American group has just been fined 1.49 billion euros for abusing advertising dominance with it’s agency AdSense. In total, Alphabet, the home of the famous search engine, has already been fined more than 8 billion euros in Europe since 2017. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

In 2006, Google told some websites they would have to use AdSense exclusively if they wanted a higher share of the search revenue generated on their site.

The rules were relaxed from 2009, but it was still required that businesses displayed a minimum number of Google ads in prime spots and gave Google rights to alter rival’s ads. These terms were dropped in 2016.

This is the third such fine that has been imposed on google in the last two years – totalling over €8bn.

In June 2017, it was fined €2.4bn for using its search engine results to favour its own shopping service.

A year later, it was fined €4.3bn for illegally binding its android system to other requirements.

The fine has given ammunition to those, such as US senator Elizabeth Warren, calling for a break up of the tech industry

Google’s global affairs head, Kent Walker said: “We’ve always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone’s interests.”

In the long-run, it is expected that Google will see these fines as little more than parking tickets and will continue its business conduct.

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