The European Commission says Google didn’t give users a choice with respect to search results. In what can be called an anti-trust suit against the internet giant, it is said that Google unfairly redirects users to its own shopping platform before it gives others a choice. This means that Google relegates links of rival services to areas where users are less likely to click while prioritising its services.
The same Margrethe Vestager whose name has been prominent in cases against the likes of Apple and Facebook said;
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” said Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s top antitrust official. “It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”
In light of this, Google has been slammed with a fine of $2.7b and could pay even more if it doesn’t desist from doing what it has been accused of. But in a statement by a Google spokesperson, they say the American giant “respectfully disagrees with the conclusions” of the European authority. They added that “We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”
While Google disagrees with the ruling, some say it could have been worse in that it could have been fined up to 10 percent of its annual sales which is about $9b. The $2.7b fine represents about 2.5 percent of Google’s revenue last year seeing as Alphabet had as much as $92b in cash as at March this year.
Europe has a long history of taking on American companies with the Intel being fined $1.2b back in 2009. Apple was asked to pay back $14b in taxes it enjoyed from the Irish government and Facebook was fined for misleading European authorities when it decided to buy WhatsApp for $19b three years ago. Amazon was put on notice for anti-trust concerns regarding distribution of e-books.
Back in September 2016, the European Commission said it will now make it easier for artists to demand for payment or more payment for that matter where they feel they have not been given a fair pay by sites like Google, YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion.
It sure looks to many like Europe taking on American giants or maybe it’s just a way to get American companies to adapt to Europe’s culture overall. The best example of this is asking Google to implement the “Right to Forget” in Europe where users can ask Google to delete their entire internet history whenever they choose.
In all though, Vestager says American companies were not being cherry-picked for fines apparently because they have analysed the allegations and found out that it was not the case.