Google with $3.6b fine from European antitrust regulators

"Google has become a short cut to buying, not a short cut to saving money", said Benjamin Glaser, features editor of DealNews, a comparison shopping site.

This is the largest antitrust fine handed out by the European Commission to date, even beating out the €1.06 billion fine given to Intel, which is now going through a long appeals process. Brussels accuses Google of giving its own online service, Google Shopping, too much priority in search results to the detriment of other price comparison services, such as TripAdvisor and Expedia. The Commission also more or less forced Amazon AMZN to change it distribution agreements with e-book publishers after it raised antitrust concerns. While acknowledging that Google's strategy included a plan to make its shopping product better than anyone else's, she said that the way the company treated its rivals and "systematically" ranked its own service at or near the top of the rankings went beyond the normal scope of competition.

Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives.

"It has denied other companies the chance to compete on their merits and to innovate, and most importantly it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation".

The company has also been ordered to cease its behavior with regard to its comparison shopping service within 90 days or face additional fines of up to five percent of parent company Alphabet's worldwide daily revenues.

"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. "With this decision, the commission is saying that Google has broken the law and now needs to stop its abuse and allow competition back into the marketplace", said Richard Stables, the Kelkoo's CEO.

The Commission has resolved an investigation into Google's business practices, concluding that Google exploited its dominance as a search engine to unfairly promote its comparison shopping service, now known as 'Google Shopping'.

Mrs Vestager's decision marks the end of a seven-year investigation in which officials gathered huge amounts of data, including 5.2 terabytes of Google search results, based on 1.7 billion search queries.

Google adopted the same practice in all 13 EU countries where it unveiled its shopping service, the European Commission says, starting with Germany and the United Kingdom in 2008 and, most recently, with Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Poland and Sweden in late 2013.

Mrs Vestager also warned that the Commission had drawn preliminary conclusions into two other cases where Google appeared to be stifling choice, one concerning the Android operating system, and the other on search ad programme AdSense.

Kelkoo claims to have lost out on ten years of development and growth as a result of Google's practices.

Vestager said she has examined statistics concerning anti-trust, merger control and state aid decisions and that "I can find no facts to support any kind of bias".

News Corp said it applauded "the European Commission's leadership in confronting the discriminatory behaviour of Google in the comparison shopping industry". That's a huge advantage for Google when 90 percent of use-clicks are on page one.