Report: Google to be Charged with Third Antitrust Violation in EU

Posted on January 18, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, Mobile with 4 Comments

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Google’s antitrust woes in the European Union keep racking up: The firm will now face a third charge there, related to its AdSense ad network.

That’s according to Bloomberg, which says that EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager is set to announce a third round of antitrust-related charges and fines against the search giant. Google was previously found guilty of violating EU antitrust laws with its Android mobile platform and online shopping services.

The new charges could come as soon as “the coming weeks.”

As with the EU’s other Google cases, this one centers on the firm’s anti-competitive business practices. In advertising, as in search, Google owns a monopoly share of the market and it uses its associated powers to illegally restrict rivals. Google owns over 80 percent of the online ad market in Europe.

There is one difference between this case and Google’s other issues in the EU: The fine will likely be a lot lower than the mammoth $7.5 billion in fines with which Google has been punished in the Android case so far. That’s because the search giant has taken steps, since first being accused in 2016, to make changes to AdSense.

“A fine isn’t likely to cause long-term harm to the company as AdSense has been replaced by other products,” a Bloomberg analyst said. “If you look at the annual reports, AdSense is less and less relevant.”

The EU’s case against Android has indeed been the most damaging to Google, but it could result in positive changes for the platform. In October, Google agreed to comply with the EU’s charges by charging more to device makers for Android in Europe. That’s unlikely to change the competitive landscape, given Android’s dominance. But it could help the firm make more money directly from the platform.

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