European Union regulator fines Google another €1.5bn for illegal online advertising practices


"Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites".

In the commission's report, it says that Google pushed three major anti-competitive requirements on companies that used its search technology, of which the Guardian is one.

In July, the European Commission found Google had violated the EU's antitrust rules by bundling Google Chrome and Google Search with Android, punishing manufacturers that shipped Android forks, and paying manufacturers for exclusively pre-installing Google Search.

Google's search results are prized internet real estate with the USA giant controlling roughly 90 percent of the search market in Europe, according to European Union data. Therefore, AdSense for Search works as an online search advertising intermediation platform.

This latest fine relates to the contracts Google forced businesses to sign if they wanted to use the company's technology to provide search functions on their own websites. This followed a 2.42 billion euro fine in June 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

This was how Microsoft did a Windows browser ballot back in 2010
Enlarge This was how Microsoft did a Windows browser ballot back

Specifically: Google is accused of abusing its dominant position by forcing customers to advertise exclusively through AdSense, the product that places relevant ads on websites.

Google said the prompts will arrive sometime "over the next few months", though we don't know which alternative search engines and browsers will be suggested to users.

"Now we'll also do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones", Google executive Kent Walker wrote in a blog.

Walker also pointed out that the company had made several other changes following the fine from the EC: It changed the licensing model for the Google apps on Android phones, and created separate licenses for Google Play, Chrome and Google Search. Now, in a move that echoes that of Microsoft's Browser Choice almost a decade ago, Google is going to give Android users the option of choosing their default web browser and search engine.

2013 - Lobbying group FairSearch files a complaint about Google's Android business practices to the European Commission. The European Commission has yet to weigh in on whether or not these changes are sufficient.

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