150 million euros fine to Google

France’s competition authority fined Google EUR 150 million ($ 167 million) for abuse of its dominant position in the search advertising market, BTA reported

In a first-of-its-kind sanctioning of the US giant, the authority also ordered Google to “clarify the rules for operating its Google Ads advertising platform and account suspension procedures” for certain advertisers.

Google holds an “extremely dominant position” in search-based advertising with a market share of between 90 and 100 percent, she said, and “when there is great power, there are also great responsibilities.”

She said authorities have no dispute with Google about setting rules for access to search-based advertising services, but “those rules should be clear.” Google cannot be allowed to apply the rules “incorrectly”.

Uncertainty about the advertiser policy framework “may have discouraged the development of innovative sites,” the competition authority said.

Google has two months to submit a detailed proposal for the measures and procedures it intends to implement to bring its practices into line.

“The French Competition Authority considers that the Google Ads operating rules imposed by Google on advertisers are established and applied under non-objective, non-transparent and discriminatory conditions. The opacity and lack of objectivity of these rules make it very difficult for advertisers to apply them, while Google has all the discretion to modify its interpretation of the rules in a way that is difficult to predict, and decide accordingly whether the sites comply with them or not. This allows Google to apply them in a discriminatory or inconsistent manner. This leads to damage both for advertisers and for search engine users.”, the Autorité de la Concurrence wrote in a press release, quoted by Tech Crunch.

1 billion euros

In September, Google agreed to pay close to 1 billion euros to French authorities to settle a fiscal fraud probe that began four years ago.

Google, which is the world’s biggest internet search engine, has also faced growing regulatory scrutiny about the content it promotes in search results and ads.

Isabelle de Silva, head of the French competition authority, told news conference that Google’s dominance in the online advertising business was “extraordinary”, with the U.S company having a market share of around 90% in that field.

Google said it would appeal the fine.

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