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Google Hit With Record $2.72 Billion Fine by EU for Online Shopping Service

/ Source: Associated Press
epa06052393 (FILE) - The Google logo during the opening of the new Google office in Zurich, Switzerland, 17 January 2017 (reissued 27 June 2017). The European Commission on 27 June 2017 said it would fine the Google with 2.4 billion euros for abusing its dominance as a search engine. EPA/WALTER BIERIWALTER BIERI / EPA

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European regulators have slapped a record $2.72 billion fine on internet giant Google on Tuesday for breaching antitrust rules with its online shopping service.

The European Commission, which polices European Union competition rules, alleges Google elevates its shopping service even when other options might have better deals.

The EU's competition watchdog said "Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service."

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It gave the Mountain View, California, company 90 days to stop or face fines of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide turnover of parent company Alphabet.

The Commission said Google "gave prominent placement in its search results only to its own comparison shopping service, whilst demoting rival services. It stifled competition on the merits in comparison shopping markets."

Google maintains it's just trying to package its search results in a way that makes it easier for consumers to find what they want.

"When you shop online, you want to find the products you're looking for quickly and easily. 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," Kent Walker, senior vice president at Google, said in a statement.

"We will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case," he said.

The fine is the highest ever imposed in Europe for anti-competitive behavior, exceeding a $1.19 billion penalty on Silicon Valley chip maker Intel in 2009.

But the penalty is likely to leave a bigger dent in Google's pride and reputation than its finances. Alphabet has more than $92 billion in cash, including nearly $56 billion in accounts outside of Europe.

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