EU fines Google $2.7bn for breaching competition rules

epa04524405 EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager gives a press statement at European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 11 December 2014. The Commission is reportedly fining envelope producers over 19 million euros in cartel settlement.  EPA/JULIEN WARNAND

The European Union has imposed a record €2.42bn ($2.72bn) fine on technology giant Google, for abusing its dominance as a search engine by giving illegal advantage to its own shopping service.

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“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate,” Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, said in a statement.

“And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

Brussels has given the US tech giant 90 days to change its business model for Google Shopping, or face further penalty payments.

Vestager alleged Google elevated its shopping service even when other options might have better deals.

Google said it “respectfully” disagreed with the ruling.

“We will review the (European) Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Google insisted that it “shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.”

The fine broke the previous EU record for a monopoly case against US chipmaker Intel of €1.06bn.

The case, launched in 2010, is one of three against Google and of several against blockbuster US companies including Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and McDonalds.

In the other Google cases, the EU is examining Google’s AdSense advertising service and its Android mobile phone software.

SOURCE:News agencies

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