THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) is gearing up to hit Google with a €1bn fine (around £874m) over antitrust issues related to its Shopping service, according to reports.
The Financial Times reports that an announcement on the shopping case will be made "in the coming weeks," adding Google may be slapped with a fine of "more than €1 billion", potentially topping the €1.06bn fine levied against Intel back in May 2009.
It might not sound it, but this is good news for Google. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the EC could slap the firm with a £7bn fine, or 10 per cent of its annual turnover.
The imminent ruling would mark the end of a seven-year investigation into Google's Shopping comparison service. The EC believes that Google promotes its own services at the expense of rivals' to the "detriment of consumers", and that this "stifles innovation" in the online shopping market.
Although yet to comment on this latest report, Google has long denied any wrongdoing, and last November argued that EC's arguments lack factual and legal basis and have a skewed vision of how people shop online.
Kent Walker, Google's general counsel, said in a blog post: "We never compromised the quality or relevance of the information we displayed. On the contrary, we improved it. That isn't 'favouring' - that's listening to our customers," he said.
Walker also noted that the EC has not considered the likes of eBay, social media websites and Amazon, which he described as "by far the largest player on the field".
"Our response demonstrated that online shopping is robustly competitive, with lots of evidence supporting the common sense conclusion that Google and many other websites are chasing Amazon," he said.
The EC had previously argued that Amazon couldn't be considered a rival because it sometimes paid shopping comparison sites for referral traffic.
"Consumers don't just look for products on a search engine, then click on a price comparison site, and then click again to visit merchant sites," Walker said.
"They reach merchant websites in many different ways: via general search engines, specialist search services, merchant platforms, social media sites and online ads served by various companies." µ
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