Tech giant Google was on Wednesday fined 1.5 billion euros (Ksh171 billion) for antitrust violations in the online advertising market by the European Union.
This is the third time Google is facing hefty by the body since 2017, following violation of market regulations. The total fine now amounts to almost Ksh930 billion, which it has appealed and is likely to appeal the latest.
According to the regulators, Google had violated antitrust rules by imposing unfair terms on companies that used its search bar on their websites in Europe.
New York Times reports that Europe’s regulatory approach was once criticized as unfairly focusing on technology companies from the United States, but is now viewed as a potential global model as governments question the influence of Silicon Valley.
“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anticompetitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites,” Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s top antitrust watchdog, said in a statement. “This is illegal under E.U. antitrust rules.”
EU said that Google has been stifling competition from competitors such as Microsoft and Yahoo, through its rules.
“There was no reason for Google to include these restrictive clauses in its contracts, except to keep its rivals out of the market,” Ms Vestager said at a news conference in Brussels.
In response to the ruling on Wednesday, Google said, “Healthy, thriving markets are in everyone’s interest.”
“We’ve already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the commission’s concerns,” Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for global affairs, said in a statement.
“Over the next few months, we’ll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe.”