Google is being fined USD 2.8 billion for hindering competition in the EU after a 2017 decision has been upheld on appeal by the general court of the European Union.
The fine is one of the largest corporate fines in history and the case dates back over 15 years, in which the European Commission has been accusing Google of using its search results to give preferential treatment to its comparison shopping service over those of competitors.
- Everything started in 2005 when a British developed Foundem, a new service for comparison shopping. Google had its own comparison service named Froogle (now Google Shopping).
- Foundem found itself demoted from Google’s search results. Unless you specifically searched for it, it would only appear after several pages of browsing. Without consumers redirected from the dominant search engine, Foundem never took off.
- Having suspected that Google was restricting competition, Foundem's company founders attempted to convince Google to allow them some visibility. They eventually brought a complaint to the European Commission for abuse of dominant position.
Over time, other comparison services such as Expedia and Yelp joined the complaint. They had also attempted to compete with Google, only to see their websites suddenly relegated to the bottom of the search results by the dominant search algorithm.
What Does it Mean?
Big tech regulation will not just threaten Google's business model.
Amazon, Apple and Facebook are also currently under investigation and may further strengthen government commissions to regulate these large platforms.
Interested in reading more about the Antitrust case? See the Official Website of the European Union and its complete press release and factsheet.