Google Faces $3.4B Antitrust Fine Over Shopping Search Results

Image courtesy of Great Beyond

Weeks after European regulators announced they were opening an investigation into Google’s requirements that Android-based devices come pre-loaded with Google apps, the tech company is reportedly poised to put a second, longer-running European antitrust case related to its search behind it, to the tune of a $3.4 billion fine. 

The Sunday Telegraph reports that the European Union is expected to hand down the record-breaking fine and put an end to a six-year investigation into whether Google unfairly promoted its own shopping service above competitors in searches.

Under the proposed fine, which could be announced in June, Google would also be banned from continuing to manipulate search results to favor itself and harm rivals.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell Reuters that Google and regulators had attempted to find a compromise at least three times in the past six years.

The EU formally charged Google with unlawfully promoting its own price comparison or shopping service in general searches in April 2015, however, the Commission’s investigation first began in 2010.

News of the hefty EU fine comes just weeks after the regulator opened another investigation into the tech company.

The Commission expressed concerns that Google’s exclusive contracts — that sometimes require device makers to pre-load up to 11 Google apps — may be putting up roadblocks that reduce the odds of competing, possibly better and more innovative, software from reaching consumers.

Google said at the time that “anyone can use Android with or without Google applications. Hardware manufacturers and carriers can decide how to use Android and consumers have the last word about which apps they want to use.”

If the Commission ultimately rules against Google, it could mean another multi-billion dollar penalty.

Shortly after the EU announced their investigation into Google’s Android contracts, regulators stateside said they would widen their own investigation into the pre-loaded Android apps.

The FTC, which opened a probe into the company’s practices after receiving complaints from app developers and tech firms related to Google’s tendency to use its heavyweight status to get exclusive deals, has reportedly requested data from at least two companies in the industry related to contracts.

Google faces record-breaking fine for web search monopoly abuse [Sunday Telegraph]
Google faces record three billion euro EU antitrust fine: Telegraph [Reuters]