Google ‘considering an appeal’ after record €2.42bn EU fine

Google’s response to the European Commission’s decision to charge it more than double its previous record antitrust fine has provoked a swift response.

Claiming its search engine vehicle is there to benefit all sellers, not one in particular, Kent Walker, SVP and general counsel of the company, disagrees with almost everything the Commission stated today (27 June).

The Commission slammed Google for ‘abusing dominance as a search engine by giving [an] illegal advantage to [its]own comparison shopping service’, with further penalties a possibility.

Though the tech giant argues otherwise.


Quick and easy

“When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily,” said Walker, “and advertisers want to promote those same products.

“That’s why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.”

Walker thinks today’s decision shows that the European Commission “underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections”.

Google claims its data shows users don’t even want price comparison websites, which are at the core of today’s decision. Rather, they want answers through search – no need for a double up.

It even goes so far as saying European merchants use Google’s search engine presentation to better compete with the likes of Ebay and Amazon, the latter of which it lauds for its sheer size and success.

Contentious point

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, today said, “Google’s strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals”.

“Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.”

Calling this illegal under EU antitrust rules, Vestager said Google essentially 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 and the full benefits of innovation.”

This has been argued, quite clearly, by Walker.

“When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you’re looking for,” said Walker.

“Our ability to do that well isn’t favouring ourselves, or any particular site or seller – it’s the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback.

“Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”

European Commission. Image: Xavier Pironet/Shutterstock

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