European Union regulators have slapped tech giant Google with a record €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) antitrust fine for allegedly manipulating its search results to favour its products over rivals’.
The European Commission imposed the fine after establishing that Google denied “consumers a genuine choice” by using its search engine to unfairly steer them to its own shopping platform.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” said Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s top antitrust official.
“It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”
The American firm has been granted a three-month grace period to change its behaviour or face further penalties.
The €2.4 billion fine is the European Commission’s biggest penalty to date against a company accused of distorting the market.
In a rejoinder, Google said that it “respectfully” disagreed with the EU decision, which followed a seven-year investigation, and was considering an appeal.
“We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the 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.”