A Bloomberg report from yesterday suggested Google could be hit with a record fine by the European Union's antitrust regulator over the company's alleged manipulation of search results. The regulator has now announced that it is levying a $2.7 billion fine on Google for abusing its dominance as a search engine by giving an "illegal advantage" to its own comparison shopping service.
The EU states that Google favored its own price comparison engine — Google Shopping — over rival services, thereby denying companies the ability to compete. From EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager:
According to the ruling, Google's manipulation of search results has led to a significant decrease in traffic for rival comparison shopping services, amounting to as much as a 85% drop in countries like the UK. At the same time, the commission found that Google's own service picked up a 45-fold increase in traffic in the UK. As noted by the EU:
The EU said it decided to impose the fine after conducting a thorough investigation in which the commission reviewed documents from Google and "other market players," analyzed 1.7 billion search queries, pored through click-through rates along with financial and traffic data.
The EU commission is giving Google 90 days to stop its "illegal conduct" and tweak its search algorithm to favor rival services just as favorably as its own:
Failing to comply with the decision will allow the EU to fine Google up to 5% of its daily turnover. Given the impact of the EU's investigation and the fact that it affects Google's core business, the company is likely to appeal the decision. Google has previously affirmed that its practices were well within the confines of the law, and the search giant is doing the same this time around. In a statement, Google said:
This isn't the only antitrust investigation Google is facing in the EU: the company is also facing charges for preferring its own services on its Adsense for Search platform, and bundling Google Search as the default search engine on Android.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.