Google fined £1.27bn for breaching European Union competition laws

Google will ask European Android users to choose preferred browsers and search engines following EU concerns

Google tweaks search after EU competition scrutiny

The Commission reports that Google had more than a 70% market share from 2006 to 2016 in online search advertising intermediation in the European Economic Area (EEA), and so a dominant player in that market.

The fine for AdSense malpractices was smaller because Google worked with the European Union to changes its policies after the investigation was launched in 2016. The commission said the Mountain View company had imposed "restrictive clauses" in advertising-related contracts with third-party websites.

Margrethe Vestager, Europe's competition commissioner, had initially criticised Android for being a closed platform, as Google was forcing manufacturers to adopt both Chrome and Search in order to gain access to the Play Store.

"As a result, Google's competitors were prevented from placing their search adverts in the most visible and clicked on parts of the websites' search results pages", the Commission said.

The EU's powerful anti-trust regulator slapped tech giant Google with a new fine on Wednesday over unfair competition, in Europe's latest salvo against Silicon Valley. Google now restricts choice by ensuring its own ads, served through AdSense, are featured on third-party websites exclusively, and therefore are the sole gateway to people's spending, according to the EU.

The EU's first antitrust case came about in 2017 and involved Google's search engine prioritising Google's shopping services over others that were cheaper, which led to a 2.42 billion euro fine.

Responding to this latest ruling, Google public affairs chief Kent Walker said the company had "already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission's concerns".

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The commission said that Google stopped website publishers from putting adverts from competitors on their search pages.

One of the more worrying findings was that, from 2009, the Mountain View company required publishers to gain written approval from Google before making visual changes to rival ads.

The EU found Google's anti-competitive behavior extended back at least a decade and hurt other businesses and consumers, Vestager said.

Previous year it was fined a record £3.9 billion fine over restrictions placed on mobile phone manufacturers using Android to drive internet traffic to Google's own search engine.

This time, the issue is with websites who signed a contract with Google to put a search box on their website. They even had to request a minimum number of Google ads.

The punishment on Wednesday brought Google's total tab with the bloc$9.31bn, which amounts to far less than the maximum fine of 10 percent of the company's annual turnover.

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