Google LLC has been fined $1.69 billion USD by the European Union for what the EU has claimed is antitrust abuses related to Google’s AdSense advertising platform.
This is not the first time Google has been fined by the EU, but in this case it was due to its monopolization of search results on its search box feature through AdSense, which third party websites can use to earn money by embedding a search box on their website to serve up ads targeting the website’s audience. The EU is alleging that the fact that Google ads will always come first in this search box, and not allowing third-party advertising platforms adequate access to the search box feature, has created an anti-competitive advertising market.
The EU estimates that 85 per cent of the market share between 2006 and 2016 for web display ads was owned by Google.
“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. 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,” said Margrethe Vestager, the antitrust commissioner for the European Commission.
This most recent fine now brings Google’s total money owed to the EU to about $10 billion USD.
In the past Google has been fined $5 billion USD by the EU in 2018 for antitrust issues with its Android operating system and fined $3 billion by the EU in 2017 for antitrust issues related to Google Shopping and its ad platform. Google is appealing both of these fines.