Google has said it will consider appealing a €2.42bn (£2.14bn) fine from the European Commission after a seven year investigation found that it had breached EU antitrust rules by prioritising its shopping site in its search results.
The fine is the largest ever issued by the Commission for the alleged distortion of a market.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, could now face further penalties of up to five per cent of its daily global turnover if it fails to change its practices within 90 days.
Those fines would amount to $14m (£11m) a day based on the company’s latest financial statements. Alphabet has assets exceeding $172bn.
The tech giant’s general counsel Kent Walker wrote in a blog that given the evidence, the firm “respectfully disagrees” with the decision.
“We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Walker added.
In a statement revealing the investigations’ findings, Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner in charge of competition policy, said Google has come up with many services that have “made a difference to our lives”, but added: “Google’s strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals.
“Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”
Google’s Kent Walker contended: “When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you’re looking for. Our ability to do that well isn’t favoring ourselves, or any particular site or seller – it’s the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback.”
The EU is still investigating claims that Google makes it difficult for third party apps and search engines to be pre-installed on its Android mobile operating system and allegations that the firm restricted rivals’ ads from appearing on third-party sites with a Google search bar.