20 March 2019: Alphabet LLP., the company which owns search engine Google was fined $1.69 billion by the European Union for stifling competition in online advertisements.
The European Commission found that Google had placed exclusivity contracts on website owners, stopping them from including search results from Google’s rival services like Bing and DuckDuckGo. Google had changed clauses in its contracts in 2009 to include premium payments and asked websites using its advertising service, AdSense to seek permission before publishing and changed the manner in which search results from rival ads could be displayed.
This is the third case since 2017 in which Google has been fined by the EU. In June 2017, it was fined €2.4bn for pushing its Google Shopping service on search engine users in a way that harmed the wider price comparison market.
A year later, it was fined €4.3bn for illegally tying its Android operating system to a raft of other requirements, preventing handset manufacturers from shipping phones without pre-installing Google’s search and browser apps.
However, Google has not paid the fine amount in any of the three cases. Litigation contesting these anti-trust fines are being expected. The company has also started offering European Android users a choice over what browser and search engine they wish to use.
Given the lack of legislation on regulating online businesses and the internet space the fines have proved ineffective in countering the monopolistic practices of internet giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft.