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The European Commission has fined Google €2.42-billion (R35.32-billion) for abusing its dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service over others.
According to the Commission, Google was unfairly promoting Google Shopping while demoting rival comparison services, such that even the most prominent rival service was only appearing on the fourth page.
This practice is a violation of the EU’s antitrust rules. It says that dominant companies have a responsibility not to restrict competition in any markets.
The judgment comes after seven years of investigation, and is the largest antitrust fine ever handed out by the European commission. It was calculated based on Google Shopping’s revenue in the 13 European countries concerned.
The company has responded in a statement on its blog.
Google said it “respectfully” disagrees after being fined over €2.4-billion by the European Commission
Senior Vice President Kent Walker argues that users favoured Google’s results because they were quicker and easier to manage. He writes that to use rival companies’ services they would have to repeat their search.
“Showing ads that include pictures, ratings, and prices benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, our users,” he writes.
“Given the evidence, 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.”
The company has 60 days to comply with the EU, after which it will face a daily fine of 5% of the average worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Google is still under investigation in two other cases. One has to do with the Android OS, where “the Commission is concerned that Google has stifled choice and innovation in a range of mobile apps and services”. The other is regarding AdSense and Google’s prevention of “third-party websites from sourcing search ads from Google’s competitors”.