The European competition watchdog has fined Google €2.42 billion for abusing its dominance as a search engine.
The European Commission was prompted to take action after numerous complaints were made by rival firms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, UK comparison site Foundem, and News Corp.
In a seven-year long investigation, Google was found to be systematically given prominent placement in searches to its own comparison shopping service and demoted those of rivals in search results.
The search engine has been given 90 days to stop favouring its own shopping service or face a further penalty of up to 5% of Alphabet’s average daily global turnover. Alphabet is the parent company of Google.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
This is the biggest fine for a single company in an EU antitrust case, exceeding a €1.06 billion sanction handed down to U.S. chipmaker Intel in 2009.
It is also the biggest regulatory setback for Google, which settled with U.S. enforcers in 2013 with a requirement to stop “scraping” reviews and other data from rival websites for its own products.
The EU competition enforcer has also charged Google with using its Android mobile operating system to crush rivals, a case that could potentially be the most damaging for the company, with the system used in most smartphones.
The company has also been accused of blocking rivals in online search advertising, with the Commission warning of deterrent fines if Google is found guilty of breaching EU rules.