MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (NBC) – Google has been fined $1.7 billion by the European Union for blocking rival online search advertisers. The fine announced Wednesday is Google’s third huge EU antitrust penalty in two years.
The European Commission said in a statement that the anti-competitive practices had lasted a decade.
The case concerned websites, such as newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and advertisements. Google’s “AdSense for Search” provided such search ads.
The EU said Google’s misconduct included various anti-competitive practices aimed at keeping rivals out of the market.
“Google’s rivals, they were unable to grow and to compete, and as a result of that, well, websites, owners of websites had limited options for selling advertising space on those websites, and were forced solely to rely on Google,” EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. “And as a result from that, Google benefited from network effects and became even stronger.”
The case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.
Last year, the EU fined Google for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals. That followed another fine in June 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.