Google fined £1.3bn by EU for advertising violations

The European Commission has announced that Google has been fined for breaching EU antitrust rules.

The latest financial charge concerns Google’s AdSense advertising service and the firm has been asked to pay a total of €1.49bn ($1.6bn/£1.3bn).

The announcement of the fine has been expected after European officials confirmed last November they were on the brink of completing their investigation against AdSense.

Google AdSense fine

The AdSense investigation started in 2016 when the Commission accused the tech giant of using clauses in its AdSense contract with third-party sites, which prevented its competitors from placing adverts on these sites between 2006 and 2016.

Since then, Google has changed its AdSense contracts with third-party organisations, by giving them the ability to display competing search advertisements.

“Today the Commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts,” stated Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy.

“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,” she added.

“This is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” said Vestager. “The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition.”

Financial penalties

This is the third financial charge that Google has been hit within the last two years.

In 2017, Google was fined €2.4 ($2.8bn/£2.1bn) by the European Commission for thwarting rival shopping comparison websites.

In the following year, the European Union fined Google a record €4.3bn ($4.8bn/£3.83bn) for abusing services related to its Android mobile operating system.

With the new penalty charge, Google’s total EU antitrust bill stands at around €8.2bn ($9.2/£7.0bn). 

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