Google was fined 1.49 billion euros, $1.7 billion, for blocking rival ads on other websites by the European Union.
The European Commission said Google had signed exclusivity contracts with website owners to block ads of the company’s rivals. The commission said these clauses in the contract were replaced with premium payments in 2009.
The case involved websites like newspaper or travel sites which has a search function that produces search results and search ads. According to the EU, Google stopped publishers from placing any ads from competitors on their search results page. The search engine giant also asked the website owners to seek written permission in case they needed to change the way the rival ads were displayed.
EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager opined that Google denied their competitors a chance for fair competition and innovation in the online ad market.
“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” Vestager said in Brussels, according to a CNBC report.
Responding to the commissioner, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker said: “We’ve always agreed that 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. Over the next few months, we’ll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe.”
The search engine mogul is a repeat offender as this is the third time it is being penalized for an antitrust offense by Brussels.
“One should understand that you are more than welcome to do business in Europe but with our rule book and with no illegal behavior,” said Vestager.
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