Google has lost an EU court challenge to a £2billion anti-trust ruling after the search engine giant was accused of favouring its own price-comparison shopping service over smaller European rivals.
The European Court of Justice’s General Court ruled today that it ‘largely dismisses’ Google’s appeal of that antitrust penalty and is upholding the fine.
The shopping case was the first of a trio of decisions that have seen Google rack up a total of 8.25 billion euros in EU antitrust fines in the last decade.
The fine is a major win for EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, who sanctioned the world’s most popular internet search engine in 2017 for giving itself the unfair advantage over European shopping rivals.
Vestager subsequently took on Amazon, Apple and Facebook, where investigations are still ongoing.
‘The General Court thus rules that, in reality, Google favours its own comparison shopping service over competing services, rather than a better result over another result,’ it said in a press release.
Google responded by saying it made changes in 2017 to comply with the European Commission´s decision.
‘Our approach has worked successfully for more than three years, generating billions of clicks for more than 700 comparison shopping services,’ a Google statement said.
‘This judgement relates to a very specific set of facts and while we will review it closely, we made changes back in 2017 to comply with the European Commission’s decision,’ the company said in an email.
Google can appeal to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe’s top court, on points of law, but did not say if it would appeal against the judgement.
The fine was part of an effort by European regulators to curb the online giant’s clout on the continent.
It was followed by two other blockbuster antitrust penalties that the commission slapped on Google, totalling 8.25 billion euros, which the company also is appealing.
The commission’s investigation found that Google unfairly directed visitors to its comparison shopping service, Google Shopping, to the detriment of its rivals.
EU regulators demanded Google change the way it provides search results in Europe.
UK Supreme Court blocks £3.2 billion class action against Google
The UK Supreme Court has blocked a planned 3.2 billion pound ($4.3 billion) British class action against Google over allegations the internet giant unlawfully tracked the personal information of millions of iPhone users.
Britain’s top judges unanimously granted a Google appeal against the country’s first such data privacy case on Wednesday, a move that upsets a string of similar claims waiting in the wings against other companies including Facebook and TikTok.
The landmark case brought by Richard Lloyd, a consumer rights activist and the former director of Which? magazine, sought to extend Britain’s class action regime to include compensation claims for the misuse of data – even if there is no obvious financial loss or distress.
Google said the claim was related to events that took place a decade ago and were addressed at the time.
‘People want to know that they are safe and secure online, which is why for years we’ve focused on building products and infrastructure that respect and protect people’s privacy,’ a Google spokesperson said.
Lloyd alleged that Google secretly took more than 5 million Apple iPhone users’ personal data between 2011 and 2012 by bypassing default privacy settings on the Safari browser to track internet browsing histories.
Google used this to sell a targeted advertising service, Lloyd alleged, adding that the company earned $80 billion from advertising alone in 2016.