Tech giant Google could be fined more than €1bn from Brussels for abusing its online search dominance to direct customers to its own Google Shopping service.
By the end of August, EU officials are expected to announce that Google has been guilty of manipulating its search engine results, following a seven-year investigation.
Timeline for Alphabet
Google has denied any misconduct.
Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, said that the EU’s case lacked evidence in a blogpost last year.
The penalty Google faces could surpass the record sum of €1bn that California-based electronic chip maker Intel was forced to pay for antitrust abuses in Europe in 2009, according to The Financial Times.
In theory, the European Commission has the power to fine Google up to about $7.6bn, the equivalent to 10 percent of its annual revenue, but a figure as high as that remains highly unlikely.
Even if the fine is above €1bn, it would do little in terms of denting Google’s finances.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, had a revenue of $90.27bn at the end of 2016.
The European Commission publicly raised concerns that the search giant had “abused its dominant position by systematically favouring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages” in July last year.
Google’s rivals have long pressed Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s competition commissioner, to punish the tech giant for abusing its dominant position in online search.
Google boasts roughly a 90 percent market share in Europe when it comes to online search services, the New York Times reported.
EU authorities are investigating two other competition claims against Google involving Android, the company’s mobile software, and some of the search engine’s advertising products.
The State of Technology This Week
Google is not the only tech giant to be subject to scrutiny from European regulators.
Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have all faced investigations over a range of antitrust issues since 2000.