EU hits Google with $1.69bn fine for abusing online ads market

March 20th, 2019

European Union regulators have fined Google $1.69bn for blocking rival online search advertisers, hitting the US-based tech giant with a third penalty in two years.

The punishment on Wednesday brought Google’s total tab with the bloc $9.31bn, which amounts to far less than the maximum fine of 10 percent of the company’s annual turnover.

In the latest ruling, Google and parent company Alphabet were found to have breached EU rules by imposing restrictive clauses in contracts with websites that used its AdSense advertising business.

That prevented competitors from placing their ads on these sites, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from the internet giant before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

“Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said on Wednesday.

The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

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