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Google might have been a very naughty boy

naughty step child

Whispers around Brussels tell the industry Google could be on its way to a whopping €1 billion fine from the European Commission after claims it abused its search market dominance.

The company is facing three antitrust decisions on the search group’s practices over the next couple of weeks, and according to sources from the Financial Times, the €1 billion slap is related to Google’s Shopping service. Both parties have declined to comment for the moment, though if true, the fine would exceed that handed out to Intel in 2009.

It could be the beginning of another fall out between the European Commission and Silicon Valley, following the decision to fine Apple €13 billion for creative tax arrangements last year. In truth, the European Commission is probably bowing to a little bit of pressure and lobbying power from Google’s rivals, who have been seeking investigations into the search giant’s activities for some time.

While this is unlikely to have Google execs sweating for the moment, the group holds $90 billion as of its last quarterly update, the ripples could be very worrying for future diversification ambitions. Google has long lent on the success of its core business to drive success elsewhere, though this decision could set precedent to cause complications down the line.

It has hardly been a harmonious relationship between the two parties. The investigation into Google has been a long and drawn out distraction for the internet mammoth, which has occasionally threatened to turn sour. Last November, Google’s General Counsel, Kent Walker, took a bit of a shot at the bureaucrats on the company blog:

“Ultimately, we can’t agree with a case that lacks evidence and would limit our ability to serve our users, just to satisfy the interests of a small number of websites.”

Such conspiracy theories are unlikely to be very true, however Google does receive a considerable amount of attention from the rulemaker. But, most would say this is fair game considering Google is one of the most influential organizations on the planet.

What the decision is remains to be seen, however, many more legal disputes like this will begin to tarnish the ‘do no evil’ mantra which fuelled the company in the early years.


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