The European Union has levied a third antitrust fine against Google.
EU antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that the technology giant had abused its dominant position by forcing customers of its AdSense service to sign contracts stating they would not accept advertising from rival search engines. “The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate.”
This brings the total in fines against Google by the EU to 8.2 billion Euros, but it’s also ends the last of the investigations that were in progress.
The third fine is lower than the previous two as Google actively worked with the European Commission to change its AdSense policies after the EU announced its case in 2016.
In 2006, Google started selling its AdSense for Search product. This let companies place a Google search box on their website. When a search is entered Google shows the results but also its adverts.
Google made customers sign contracts banning them from including rival search engines on their sites. In 2009, Google allowed the inclusion of rival search engines as long as Google’s was more prominent. In 2016, around the time the EU announced its case, the company removed these terms altogether.
Possibly, to avoid further anti-trust cases On Android phones, Google used to automatically install its own services (including Google search) but has recently switched to allowing users which services they want.
Today’s fine brings an end to EU’s current trilogy of open probes, the organization is still looking at a number of other areas of Google’s business and could open new cases in future.
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