Google facing huge fine for manipulating search results to promote own service
Google may face a fine of around €3 billion by the European Commission (EC) for manipulating search results to promote its own shopping comparison service, The Telegraph reported, which doesn’t bode well for the search giant as it is also being investigated for abusing its Android dominance.
The biggest penalty for monopoly abuse to date is €1.1 billion imposed on Intel, the report said.
The maximum possible fine for Google could be around €6.6 billion, a tenth of its annual sales, according to The Telegraph, which added that Google may be forced to change its search algorithm so it can no longer skew results in its favour.
Google has in the past offered to change the presentation of its results rather than change the algorithm itself but unlike the previous competition commissioner, Jaoquin Almunia, who was looking to agree to this, Margarethe Vestager has taken a more aggressive stance.
Google did not comment. It will have the option of fighting the ruling in the European Court of Justice.
In a speech at the BEUC (European Consumer Organisation) General Assembly last week, Vestager said “we’re concerned that Google might have used its power to limit people’s choices” adding that “we’re also worried about Google’s contracts with phone makers and operators that use the Android operating system.”
Last month, Google was accused of “stifling competition and innovation” by Vestager as she explained that the search giant used Android to impose unfair restrictions on device manufacturers and operators.
Google was sent a statement of objections with 12 weeks to respond.
The EU found Google is dominant in three markets: general internet search services, licensable mobile operating systems for smartphones, and Android-based app stores. The firm holds shares greater than 90 per cent in each of those markets in Europe, said the EU.
The US Federal Trade Commission is also gathering information on whether Google abused its dominance in the internet search market, and may reopen an investigation closed without charges in 2013.