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Google considers appealing EU ruling as it's hit with €2.4bn antitrust fine

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By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

June 27, 2017 | 4 min read

Google has been issued a €2.4bn fine by EU authorities for breaking antitrust law, following a seven-year investigation by the European Commission.

While Google has kept its responsive statement short, it hinted that the company will consider appealing the ruling in EU courts, which could add years on to proceedings.

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The European Commission said Google 'abused' its dominance in the market

In a statement, Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel at Google, said: "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.”

The decision centres around Google Shopping – a price comparison feature built into the company’s main search function – with authorities saying Google had "abused its market dominance as a search engine" by giving a search ranking advantage to its own products.

The European Commission has said the company must now end the conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company.

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Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, praised Google for coming up with "many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives," but caveated: "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."

She continued: "What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. 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."

Google is currently embroiled in two further EU antitrust investigations, which it has denied any wrongdoing in. The first around its AdSense business, and another focusing on its partnerships with Android phone manufacturers.

In both cases the European courts have the power to fine Alphabet up to 10% of Alphabet's turnover, which was $90bn last year.

The judgement follows months of speculation around the penalty Google would face, with many predicting that Brussels would sting the tech firm for record amounts.

The move is also likely to provoke comment from senior industry figures in the US, who in the past have criticised the European Commission for seemingly discriminating against American tech companies.

Back in 2016 the antitrust body hit Apple with a $13bn tax bill last, prompting chief executive Tim Cook to pen a lengthy letter in a bid to combat the outcome of the three-year investigation.

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