The days of flipping through volumes of encyclopaedias for answers is long gone.
All one has to do to find out about practically anything is head to their Internet browser’s search bar, tap away, and it will be automatically direct your search engine of choice to pages filled with answers.
But now, an element Google has on their search result pages has come under fire.
The European Union has fined the US company a record €2.42 billion (R35 billion) for breaking the EU’s antitrust law, reports The Verge:
The decision follows a seven-year investigation into the US company’s search algorithms, which ended with the judgement that Google had “abused its dominant position by systematically favoring” [sic] its own shopping comparison service.
The fine was handed out today by the European Commission, and is the “largest antitrust judgement handed out by the executive body of the EU” since the €1 billion (R14 billion) penalty given to Intel in 2009.
The EU’s primary target is Google Shopping, a “price comparison” feature built into the search engine.
You see that “sponsored” indication to the top right of the search results in the image above? The antitrust filing states that:
Google showed users results from Google Shopping “irrespective of [their] merits,” depriving rival price comparison sites of traffic.
The EU argues that because Google is so overwhelmingly dominant in Europe, it should not be allowed to actively undermine competitors.
In other words, allowing companies who have the money to add their products’ data to Google Merchant Centre is a problem. Eish.
In the press statement issued today, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager praised Google for coming up with “many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives”, but added that the company “abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors”.
Vestager continued saying that:
What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. 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.
Hitting back in a press statement, Google was helluva unimpressed, saying:
We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.
I am sure that means they have thousands of lawyers working on a suitable defence.
The news is set to anger American tech companies, as this isn’t the first time the EU has targeted them:
Google currently faces two other ongoing EU antitrust investigations: one targeting its AdSense business, and another, the deals it makes with Android phone manufacturers. The EU has the power to fine Google up to 10 percent of its annual revenue (around $9 billion) in each investigation.
Vestager recently came under fire for a decision last year forcing Apple to pay Ireland €13 billion in back taxes.
The EU, however, denies its bias against the US, with only 15% of antitrust commissions between 2010 and 2017 hitting US companies.
I wonder what the EU has to say about AdWords – surely it’s the same kind of thing? Something tells me after seven years of research this isn’t over.
I guess we should all move over to duckduckgo.com, although their search spectrum is just not as wide.
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