Google slapped with $2.7 billion fine in antitrust ruling

Mark Scott, reporting for the New York Times:

Google suffered a major blow on Tuesday after European antitrust officials fined the search giant a record $2.7 billion for unfairly favoring some of its own services over those of rivals.

The penalty, of 2.4 billion euros, highlights the aggressive stance that European officials have taken in regulating many of the world’s largest technology companies, going significantly further than their American counterparts.

By levying the fine against Google — more than double the previous largest penalty in this type of antitrust case — Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s antitrust chief, also laid claim to being the Western world’s most active regulator of digital services, an industry still dominated by Silicon Valley.

Ms. Vestager has a history of going after big tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, and Facebook. It seems like the E.U. wants much more of a hands on approach to how the tech giants are regulated that what we see in the US. As for next steps:

Google has 90 days to respond to the European Commission’s demands, or face penalties of up to 5 percent of the average daily global revenue of Alphabet, its parent company. European officials said on Tuesday that they would regularly monitor the company’s activities to ensure that it was complying with the ruling.

Under European rules, the company — and not the regulator — must come up with proposals to guarantee that it treats competitors fairly when people make online search queries. The authorities can demand that Google make further changes if they are not satisfied with the initial proposals.

I expect that we will see a very long legal battle over this case. Eventually Google will probably make some slight changes to their search preferences in the E.U. and pay a much smaller fine than the $2.7 billion, and this thing will be done with.