Google Hit With €1.5 Billion Fine Over Online Advertising

Credit: MariaX/ShutterstockCredit: MariaX/ShutterstockThe European Union (EU) isn't letting up on Google. Authorities fined the company 1.5 billion euros (roughly $1.7 billion) today for violating antitrust regulations by stifling competition in the online advertising market on which much of the web relies.

Here's what the European Commission's Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

"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.”

This is the third fine the EU has issued Google since 2017. The first one, which involved the company favoring its shopping services in search results, was for €2.4 billion. The second fine revolved around the company using Android to promote its services; the €4.34 billion fine set a new record for tech companies.

Google published a blog post yesterday saying it's complying with the EU's orders. The company said it is "testing a new format that gives direct links to comparison shopping sites, alongside specific product offers from merchants" and has changed Android's licensing model to make it easier to offer alternatives to its apps. The post didn't mention any fines.

It's not clear if Google plans to appeal the decision--like it did with the two previous fines--or if it's merely waiting to release a response. Either way, it's clear that the EU doesn't plan to relieve any of the scrutiny it's placed on tech companies.