Google appeals $2.9 billion EU fine

Google appeals $2.9 billion EU fine
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Google has appealed a record $2.9 billion fine from the European Union over its comparative shopping service, the EU Court of Justice announced Monday morning.

The EU’s enforcement wing, the European Commission, issued the massive penalty in June, accusing Google of boosting its own comparative shopping tool in its search results at the expense of other services.

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“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” said EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager 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 and the full benefits of innovation."

 

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the appeal.

When the commission first issued the fine, Google's general counsel, Kent Walker, said that the company disagreed with the decision and hinted at the possibility of an appeal.

“When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you’re looking for,” Walker wrote in a blog post at the time. “Our ability to do that well isn’t favoring ourselves, or any particular site or seller--it’s the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback.”

The commission also ordered Google to change its search practices by the end of September to give rival services equal consideration. The company is not seeking an injunction against that order, according to multiple reports.

Google submitted a plan to comply with the order last month.

Europe also has two other open antitrust investigations into its Android operating system and its advertising services. Those probes could also result in similarly massive fines.

The record penalty has had far-reaching effects, igniting a new debate in the U.S. about the lax approach that authorities here take to policing internet companies. The Federal Trade Commission closed a similar investigation into Google in 2013 without levying any fines against the internet search giant.

Calls for adopting a harder line on internet giants have not gotten much traction among lawmakers, but Democrats have made a new approach to antitrust a key part of their new economic agenda.

Some conservatives have taken an even harder line. Calls to regulate Google like a public utility has gained traction in some right-wing circles over concerns that the company is stifling conservative voices.

--This report was updated at 11:36 a.m.