Last year, the company was hit with a €2.4 billion (nearly $2.8 billion USD) antitrust fine after EU officials determined Google cooked its search results to benefit its own shopping services — and disadvantage the services of others. Apart from the fine, the European Commission (EC) gave Google 90 days to “stop its illegal conduct” and offer other price-comparison services the chance to compete on a balanced playing field.
“Google’s strategy for its comparison-shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, at the time. “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.”
The ruling found that Google does not apply its own shopping service to its algorithm, which ranks search results on quality and relevance to the user.
In addition, the ruling came at the end of a seven-year investigation of Alphabet’s business practices, urged on by the complaints of several small shopping sites — and the series of large players that joined them. These firms demanded Google either be sanctioned or even broken up for the ways it has used search to unfairly tip the market toward itself. News Corporation, Axel Springer SE and Microsoft were among the complaining firms.
As a result, Google came up with an offer that would allow its rivals to find a place at the top of the search engine’s page.
“We have received the second Google shopping report,” the Commission said, according to Reuters. It didn’t give any additional information.
For their part, rivals do not believe Google is creating a fair playing field and have asked for more regulatory action. Antitrust enforcers can potentially enforce fines of up to 5 percent of Google’s average daily worldwide turnover if it finds the company has failed to comply with its order.