Google has filed an appeal against the $1.7 billion (€1.49 billion) fine slapped on it by the European Commission as an antitrust penalty for stifling competition in the online advertising industry. The Telegraph reported late Tuesday that Google lodged the appeal in the General Court of the European Union in Brussels. A Google spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that the appeal has been filed but declined to comment further.
A third antitrust fine of $1.7BN was slapped on Google by the executive arm of the European Union three months ago, after a series of investigation. The commission disclosed a reason for the AdSense fine to come from Google’s abuse of its dominance in the online advertising market with its AdSense business. The EU stated that Google was violating the bloc’s antitrust rules by its “illegal” practice of restricting competitors from online search advertisements.
The AdSense antitrust fine slapped on Google was issued under the European Commission’s current antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager who also issued Google a penalty of $5BN in 2017, after it was charged by EU for anti-competitive practices attached to its Android devices. The latest fine is coming after the mid-2017 $2.7BN fine by the same antitrust chief for Google’s comparison shopping antitrust violations. Google, however, did also appeal for these fines which totals nearly $8 billion.
Meanwhile, Google has made effective changes to the operations of its Google Shopping and Android in Europe in order to avoid risking other punitive penalties in the future despite appealing not to be guilty.
When contacted for comment concerning Google’s decision to appeal the fine, a European Commission spokesperson said: “The Commission will defend its decision in Court.”
The decision to place such fine on Google came after the Commission discovered that Google included restrictive clauses in its contracts with major sites using its ad platform between 2006 and 2016. Vestager said the clauses could only be interpreted as an intention to keep rivals out of the market.
Part of the restrictions included exclusive provisions and premium ad placement requirements. It gave priority to Google’s ads and granted them plumb positioning on “the most visible and most profitable parts of the page”. Basic restrictions and control measures on how partner websites could display rival search ads were also part of the illegal clause.
In 2016, Google removed the restrictions after the Commission issued a formal statement of objections to the company. That statement did signal the beginning of serious scrutiny by the EU.
Aside from the commission’s decision to place a fine of $1.7 billion on Google for AdSense antitrust breaches, it also made its enforcement decision clear to Google. The decision requires that no other restriction “with an equivalent effect” be included by Google in its contracts, and also stating that Google must never reestablish the earlier abusive clauses.
Google is facing mounting regulatory pressure not just from the EU, but around the globe. It’s been reported that the U.S. Justice Department is planning to conduct an antitrust investigation into Google on the company’s business practices in its search and other businesses.