Google "G" logoSource: Android Central

What you need to know

  • Google is allegedly offering to enter a settlement with the EU over an ongoing antitrust investigation.
  • The EU is looking into whether the company is favoring its own online advertising platform to the disadvantage of competitors.
  • The search giant could be fined up to $18.2 billion if the EU decides to junk the settlement offer.

Google is reportedly seeking to settle a new antitrust probe by the European Union into its digital advertising practices. Reuters reports the settlement might help the search giant avert another hefty fine that could amount to $18.2 billion.

In June, the European Commission launched an investigation into Google's online advertising technology business for possible violations of EU competition rules. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission's executive vice president in charge of competition policy in the region, stated at the time that Google may be abusing its advertising dominance to make it "harder for rival online advertising services" to compete in this sector.

The EC's latest investigation focuses on whether Google limits third-party access to "user data for advertising purposes on websites and apps, while reserving such data for its own use." Google did not immediately respond to Android Central's request for comment.

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Citing an anonymous source, Reuters says the Alphabet unit made a proposal to the EU, though the specifics of the proposed settlement are unknown at this time. If approved, Google's settlement will allow it to avoid paying fines of up to 10% of its global revenue.

Over the last decade, the Mountain View-based company has had a tumultuous relationship with the EU. For example, over the last ten years, it has already paid more than €8 billion in fines related to three separate cases. That's in addition to the numerous concessions it had to make for the sake of competition.

The ongoing EU investigation is Google's latest regulatory hurdle in relation to its business practices. The EU fined Google a record-breaking €4.3 billion ($5 billion) in 2018 for abusing its Android market dominance by requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google's Search and Chrome browser apps on many of the best Android phones.

In September, the EU renewed its antitrust investigation into Google for forcing Android OEMs to use Google Assistant as the default voice assistant on their devices. It remains to be seen whether the search giant's settlement proposal will be accepted by the regulators.