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Europe maintains a record fine with Google

The European Union’s High Court did not change its 2017 ruling, which fined Google 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for monopoly.

The $2.8 billion fine comes after the European Commission (EC) found that Google used search results to intentionally direct users to the shopping platform Google Shopping. This is the EU’s highest ever fine for a technology company.

Google will face a record fine in Europe.  Artwork: The Verge

Google will face a record fine in Europe. Illustrations: The Verge

When sentenced, Google and parent company Alphabet appealed soon after, but were dismissed on November 10. Currently, the US search company still has the right to apply again to the highest court of the EU, the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

In his ruling on November 10, the judge affirmed that he had found sufficient evidence that Google’s conduct was harmful. The US tech company violated antitrust laws “by prioritizing its own shopping comparison service above search results and showing it in a favorable position, and excluding results from competing services.” by the ranking algorithm”.

According to observers, the rejection of Google’s appeal is a very important result, because it will strengthen the antitrust arguments that the EU is applying to block US technology firms. Google is also facing two other proprietary lawsuits related to its Android mobile platform and its AdSense advertising service.

Earlier, Margrethe Vestager, head of the European antitrust agency, referred to the concept of “self-preferencing”, implying that a company like Google could circumvent antitrust laws by profiting. Use a dominant market position to create advantages for your products and services over competitors.

“‘self-preferencing’ by itself is not a violation of EU antitrust law, but its potential harm could deter companies with better products,” Vestager told CNN.

Thomas Vinje, legal counsel for FairSearch, said the fine would give the EC “the necessary amount of screws” to squeeze Google in areas where the company has a monopoly, such as search and online advertising. , app store and online video. “This victory is just the beginning,” Vinje told The Verge.

However, some other experts believe that Google’s loss of the lawsuit shows more clearly the EU’s limitation in controlling and solving antitrust issues in the technology world. In fact, after the 2017 ruling, Alphabet offered many solutions that prioritize third parties in search results. Even so, most of these companies admit to taking in only a fraction of the new revenue, not addressing Google’s fundamental advantage.

Antitrust advocates in the EU are shifting their focus to controlling major US tech companies. The bloc’s lawmakers have proposed a Digital Markets (DMA) law to the EC since December 2020, which would force tech platforms to make concessions to smaller rivals.

However, observers say that even if the DMA is approved by EU lawmakers, its application will not be earlier than 2023. “Speed ​​is certainly not the strength of the EU”, The Verge comment.

Bao Lam

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