In a key ruling that bolsters the European Union’s drive to clamp down on the world’s biggest tech companies, Google lost its case on Wednesday to overturn a landmark antitrust ruling by European regulators against the internet giant.
Judgment of the General Court of Luxembourg with respect to Decision 2017 by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, fined Google 2.4 billion euros (about $2.8 billion) for favoring its own price comparison shopping service over those of competitors. player.
The first of the three penalties issued by Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s top antitrust enforcement agency, against Google. And with other cases also being appealed – and additional European investigations are underway against Amazon, Apple and Facebook – the case has been closely watched as a signal of the court’s position on the European Commission’s heavy use of antitrust laws against US tech giants.
Google may appeal decision to the highest court of the European Union, the European Court of Justice.
Amid growing support for the regulation of major tech platforms in the United States and the European Union, the courts will play a central role in determining how far governments can go when intervention in the digital economy. In the United States, Google is facing The Justice Department’s lawsuit for anticompetitive behavior and Facebook is facing another from the Federal Trade Commission.
In Europe, courts have sometimes ruled against regulators. Last year, The General Court ruled against an order to ask Apple to pay €13 billion in unpaid taxes. Amazon also successfully appealed another order to return the tax.
In ruling against Google on Wednesday, the court said, “By prioritizing its own comparison shopping service over its general results pages through more favorable display and positioning, and at the same time removing results from competing comparison services in those pages by ranking algorithms, Google leaves the competition on value.”
Google said it was reviewing the decision, but added that it had made some changes to its shopping product to comply with the 2017 decision.
“Shopping ads always help people find the products they’re looking for quickly and easily, and help sellers reach potential customers,” the company said in a statement. “Our approach has worked successfully for over three years, generating billions of clicks for over 700 comparison shopping services.”
The €2.4 billion fine was a record at the time, before being surpassed in 2018, when the commission fined Google €4.34 billion for illegally using the Android operating system to support the use of Android. search engines and other services on mobile devices.
In 2019, Ms Vestager’s office fined Google 1.49 billion euros for imposing unfair terms on companies using their search bar on their websites in Europe.
Google’s investigations have helped inspire stricter new competition rules that are being drafted in the European Union aimed at the world’s biggest tech platforms. The draft law – the Digital Markets Act – is expected to be passed next year and will give European regulators new powers to intervene in the digital economy, including including preventing companies like Google and Apple from favoring their services over rivals.
Violation of the new rules will result in a fine of up to 10% of a company’s annual revenue.
Google’s rivals welcomed Wednesday’s ruling, but many said the investigations and trial took too long for Google to maintain its dominant position.
“While we welcome today’s ruling, it does not detract from the substantial harm consumers have done,” said Shivaun Raff, chief executive and co-founder of Foundem, a comparison shopping service. and anticompetitiveness caused by more than a decade of insidious search manipulation practices by Google. in Europe helped bring the initial complaint against Google.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/10/business/google-eu-appeal-antitrust.html Google loses money on claims of $2.8 billion antitrust fine in the European Union