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EU to Hit Google with €1bn-Plus Fine' in Case over Market Dominance

1af X999 google TO BE FINED


Several reports have surfaced this morning claiming that the European Union's antitrust watchdog in the coming weeks is set to hit Alphabet's Google with a record fine for manipulating its search results to favor its own comparison-shopping service.


The penalty against Google is expected to top the EU's previous record fine levied on a company allegedly abusing its dominance: 1.06 billion euros ($1.18 billion) against Intel Corp. in 2009.


The fine could reach as high as 10% of the company's yearly revenue which stood at $90.27 billion last year.


But more painful to Google than a sizable fine could be other consequences that come with the European Commission's decision, including changes not only to the tech giant's business practices with its shopping service but with other services as well. The EU's decision could also embolden private litigants to seek compensation for damages at national courts.


The unprecedented sanction, if tabled, follows a seven-year investigation by Brussels. In July last year, the commission had reiterated its belief that the search giant had "abused its dominant position by systematically favoring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages."


The Commission's tough line is in sharp contrast with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission which settled its own web search case with the company in 2013 by requiring Google to stop "scraping" reviews and other data from rival websites for its own products.


Google made three unsuccessful attempts to settle the case with the previous European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in a bid to stave off a possible fine and a finding of wrongdoing.


Almunia's successor Margrethe Vestager, however, has shown no willingness to settle with Google.


The company has also been charged with using its Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals and with blocking competitors in online search advertising related to its "AdSense for Search" platform.


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