Google has been under scrutiny in countries within Europe as well as Russia. In Russia, they were forced to let users pick which default search engine they wanted to use. There have been multiple battles in Europe with one focusing on Google Search exclusivity and the other accusing them of manipulating shopping results. This shopping results investigation is a big deal too and it was enough to warrant the European Union’s largest fine at $2.7 billion (€2.4 billion).
The investigation resulted in the EU believing that Google “abused its market dominance as a search engine to promote its own comparison shopping service in search results.” Doing so, and demoting rival comparison shopping services is against EU antitrust rules and if found guilty, would force Google to pay a hefty fine for it. However, the Mountain View giant stands behind their belief that any changes were made to improve the user experience but they were still required to submit proposals for changes.
During this appeal process, the company will need to made changes to its search results that are in compliance with current EU rules. If the appeal is successful though, then they can change things back to how they were before. This appeal is critical for Google as it faces potential fines and demands for other types of “vertical search” results (such as maps/local, travel and other categories). They faced a similar antitrust case back in 2015 when UK-based Streetmap sued the Mountain View tech giant.
The company ended up winning that lawsuit as the courts believed Google’s services didn’t seem to appreciably “affect competition in the market for online maps.” So it will be up to these comparison shopping websites to prove Google’s changes impacted their service. The company is currently involved in two other antitrust cases in the EU with one pertaining to exclusivity provisions in AdWords agreements and the other dealing with the app-install requirements in contracts with Android-OEMs.
Source: The Telegraph