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European Union Regulators Commission Slaps Google With An Antitrust Penalty of $1.68 Billion

"Today's decision is about how Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform"

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European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, March 20, 2019. VOA

European Union regulators have hit Google with a 1.49 billion euro ($1.68 billion) fine for abusing its dominant role in online advertising.

It’s the third time the commission has slapped Google with an antitrust penalty, following multibillion-dollar fines resulting from separate probes into two other parts of the Silicon Valley giant’s business.

The EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, announced the results of the long-running probe of Google’s AdSense advertising business at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

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Google “prevented its rivals from having a chance to innovate and to compete in the market on their merits,” Vestager said. “Advertisers and website owners, they had less choice and likely faced higher prices that would be passed on to consumers.” VOA

“Today’s decision is about how Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform,” Vestager said.

The commission found that Google and its parent company, Alphabet, breached EU antitrust rules by imposing restrictive clauses in contracts with websites that used AdSense, preventing Google rivals from placing their ads on these sites.

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Microsoft filed an EU antitrust complaint about the service in 2009 and the EU Commission formally launched its probe in 2016, although it said at the time that Google had already made some changes to allow affected customers more freedom to show competing ads. Pixabay

Google “prevented its rivals from having a chance to innovate and to compete in the market on their merits,” Vestager said. “Advertisers and website owners, they had less choice and likely faced higher prices that would be passed on to consumers.”

AdSense is an older Google product that lets web publishers such as bloggers place text ads on their websites, with the content of the ads based on results from search functions on their sites. Microsoft filed an EU antitrust complaint about the service in 2009 and the EU Commission formally launched its probe in 2016, although it said at the time that Google had already made some changes to allow affected customers more freedom to show competing ads.

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Last year, Vestager hit the company with a record 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) fine following an investigation into its Android operating system. In 2017, she slapped Google with a 2.42 billion euro fine in a case involving its online shopping search results. (VOA)

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Google Will Start Giving EU Smartphone Users a Choice of Browsers and Search Apps on Android

Android users who open the Google Play store after the update will be given the option to install up to five search apps and five browsers, Gennai said

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FILE - A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

Google said Thursday it will start giving European Union smartphone users a choice of browsers and search apps on its Android operating system, in changes designed to comply with an EU antitrust ruling.

Following an Android update, users will be shown two new screens giving them the new options, Google product management director Paul Gennai said in a blog post.

The EU’s executive Commission slapped the Silicon Valley giant with a record 4.34 billion euro (then $5 billion) antitrust fine in July after finding that it abused the dominance of Android by forcing handset and tablet makers to install Google apps, reducing consumer choice.

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Android users who open the Google Play store after the update will be given the option to install up to five search apps and five browsers, Gennai said. Pixabay

The commission had ordered Google to come up with a remedy or face further fines. The company, which is appealing the ruling, said the changes are being rolled out over the next few weeks to both new and existing Android phones in Europe.

ALSO READ: Measles Spread in Google’s Headquarters, Employees Discussing Ways To Protect Themselves

Android users who open the Google Play store after the update will be given the option to install up to five search apps and five browsers, Gennai said. Apps will be included based on their popularity and shown in random order. Users who choose a search app will also be asked if they want to change the default search engine in the phone’s Chrome browser.

Android is the most widely used mobile operating system, beating even Apple’s iOS. (VOA)