Google hit with $1.7 billion EU antitrust fine for blocking ad rivals

Google Campus Logo
Google Campus Logo (Image credit: Android Central)

The European Commission levied a $1.7 billion fine on Google for violating antitrust rules with regards to its AdSense business. EU antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the company abused its dominant position in online advertising by "imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions" on AdSense customers. From the press release:

Today the Commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts. Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites.This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate - and consumers the benefits of competition.

Back in 2006, Google prevented AdSense customers from showing search adverts from competitors on their search results pages. The tech giant changed stance in 2009 and allowed ads from rival search engines, but with the stipulation that its own adverts were more prominent.

This is the third fine the EU has levied on Google in the last two years. Back in 2017 the commission hit Google with a $2.7 billion fine for abusing its dominant position in search and favoring its own shopping results over that of its rivals.

Google was fined a record $5 billion last year for requiring OEMs to pre-load Google Search and Chrome on new Android devices. Google has appealed both charges, and earlier today the tech giant announced that it would be offering European users the ability to choose their preferred browser and search engine when configuring new Android devices.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.