Google Fined EUR 1.49 Billion for Abusing Online Ads Market

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Last year, Vestager hit the company with a record 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) fine following an investigation into its Android operating system.

In a separate case, Brussels on Wednesday will be targeting Google's AdSense advertising service, saying it restricted some client websites from displaying ads from third parties.

The change, now under test, would add a tab showcasing Google's rivals high up on the web page in order to boost their traffic and avoid further scrutiny by the European Commission.

In July, the European Commission found Google had violated the EU's antitrust rules by bundling Google Chrome and Google Search with Android, punishing manufacturers that shipped Android forks, and paying manufacturers for exclusively pre-installing Google Search.

In brief: Google has long faced the wrath of the European Commission for breaching antitrust laws.

Enlarge / This was how Microsoft did a Windows browser ballot back in 2010. The EU says that Google used the feature to muscle out competitors who may have wanted to offer their own search adverts on internal searches. Firstly, it prevented them from running any third party adverts on the search results page - meaning that if a company was offering a better deal on ad revenue, websites couldn't use it without losing their entire search function.

"Now we'll also do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones", continues Walker.

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The €1.49bn charge is the smallest of the three European Union fines the company has been hit with.

It also fined Google €2.42bn in 2017 for abusing its dominance in online searches related to comparison shopping.

The European Commission, which said the fine accounted for 1.29 percent of Google's turnover in 2018, said in a statement that the anti-competitive practices had lasted a decade.

Margrethe Vestager, Europe's competition commissioner, had initially criticised Android for being a closed platform, as Google was forcing manufacturers to adopt both Chrome and Search in order to gain access to the Play Store.

"We've always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest", he said. The company will now ask users to select a default search engine but the option will be given to just the European users for now.

Google said the prompts will arrive sometime "over the next few months", though we don't know which alternative search engines and browsers will be suggested to users.

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