The EU slapped Google with a record EUR 2.42-billion antitrust fine on Tuesday, dealing a fresh blow to a US tech giant and risking the anger of President Donald Trump.
“The European Commission has fined Google EUR 2.42 billion ($2.72 billion or roughly Rs. 17,541 crores) for breaching EU antitrust rules,” a statement said, adding that the Silicon Valley juggernaut had abused its market dominance as the world’s most popular search engine to give illegal advantage to its Google Shopping service. Google maintains it’s trying to package its search results in a way that makes it easier for consumers to find what they want.
“We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the (European) Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.
This is the biggest fine for a single company in an EU antitrust case, exceeding a EUR 1.06-billion sanction handed down to US chipmaker Intel in 2009.
In its statement, the European Commission said the world’s most popular Internet search engine has 90 days to end its anti-competitive practice or face penalty payments up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover.
The decision comes a year after Vestager shocked the world and angered Washington with an order that Apple repay EUR 13 billion in back taxes in Ireland. It is the result of a seven-year long investigation prompted by scores of complaints from rivals such as US consumer review website Yelp, TripAdvisor, UK price comparison site Foundem, News Corp and lobbying group FairSearch.
The case is one of three against Google and of several against blockbuster US companies including Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and McDonald’s.
The cases have stoked tensions with Washington and Brussels could now face the wrath of US President Donald Trump, who won office on his “America First” slogan.