EU fines Google a record 2.42 billion euros

Google now has 90 days to end its anti-competitive practice or face penalty payments

Google now has 90 days to end its anti-competitive practice or face penalty payments

Intel has been fighting to overturn the previous record fine of €1.06 billion ($1.2 billion) since it was imposed by antitrust regulators in 2009.

The watchdog said Google was the most dominant search engine across the 31 countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The $2.7 billion fine represents just over 2.5% of Google's revenue a year ago and Alphabet, Google's owner, had $92.4 billion in cash as of end of March.

The company has also been accused of blocking rivals in online search advertising.

The penalty would eclipse the previous 1.1 billion euros record fine Intel was forced to pay in 2009 and the European Union might also demand that Google make changes to its search results so that it was not seen to favour its own service, telegraph.co.uk reported.

"Vestager is proving she means business", said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer who represents FairSearch, a group of companies that complained to the EU.

"When you shop online, you want to find the products you're looking for quickly and easily", a spokesman said in response to the ruling. Furthermore, more traffic also attracts more retailers that want to list their products with a comparison shopping service. "That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both", Kent Walker, senior vice president at Google, said in a statement.

"We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today (Tuesday)". "We look forward to continuing to make our case", a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

To avoid more pain in Europe, Google will have to change the way it does business in the region.

"This decision is a game-changer".

The US firm said it may appeal.

Thomas Vinje, legal counsel to FairSearch, welcomed the Commission's findings and urged it to act on Google's Android mobile operating system following its 2013 complaint that Google restricted competition in software running on mobile devices.

The penalty itself is unlikely to leave a dent in Google's finances. Alphabet has more than $92 billion (82 billion euros) in cash, including almost $56 billion (50 billion euros) in accounts outside of Europe.

The long-running Google case, which began in 2010, centers on allegedly anti-competitive practices by the search giant around its shopping service. Even on a desktop, the ten highest-ranking generic search results on page 1 together generally receive approximately 95 percent of all clicks on generic search results (with the top result receiving about 35 percent of all the clicks). Google's most recent public rebuttal was in November 2016, saying that improving the quality of search results isn't anti-competitive.

Facebook was fined by antitrust regulators in May for misleading officials over its takeover of messaging service WhatsApp.

It follows the internet search giant's controversial £130 million deal with HM Revenue & Customs in January 2016 to settle a 10-year tax inquiry into its United Kingdom business. She has ordered Apple Inc.to repay some €13 billion in tax advantages and hit truck makers with a record cartel fine of almost 3 billion euros.

The Commission has come under fire in the United States for a perceived bias against US companies. While she's said American firms are "under no specific fire due to their nationality", transatlantic tensions are already on the rise after President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, adding to concerns over global trade.

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