European Commission Fines Google $2.7 Billion

Says company abused dominance in search to favor its comparison shopping service

The European Commission has fined Google a record $2.7 billion dollars for violating European Union antitrust rules.

The EC said Google has "abused its market dominance in search" and gave "illegal advantage" to its own comparison shopping service over competitors' options. The decision includes the finding that Google is dominant in search throughout the European Economic Area (EEA).

Reaction: D.C. Stakes Out Google Positions

At issue was Google Shopping, which the commission said Google favored by demoting rivals in search results, "[relying] on Google's dominance in general internet search, instead of competition on the merits in comparison shopping markets."

Google has to end the anticompetitive conduct in 90 days or face a potential ongoing additional fine of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide business of its parent company, Alphabet, the EC said.

Google is also liable for civil action by individuals in the courts of the affected EEA countries.

"Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives," said EC commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who heads up competition policy. "That's a good thing. But 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.

"What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate," Vestager added. "And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation."

The commission said the record fine was based on the value of Google's revenue from Google Shopping in the 13 affected EEA countries.

Google is also under EC investigation over allegations its Android operating system has stifled choice in mobile apps and services, and for Adsense, which the EC says Google may have leveraged to prevent websites from sourcing search ads from Google competitors.

The EC has already concluded, preliminarily, that Google abused its dominant position in those two cases as well.