EU Fines Google 2.4 Billion Euros: Here’s Why They Did It

What did the tech giant do to warrant such a thing? You’re about to find out.

 
EU Fines Google 2.4 Billion Euros: Here’s Why They Did It

We all make mistakes. It’s how you grow and learn to be better. Most of the time, the only punishment we get is a bit of shame. If we go too far, we can get the cuffs slapped on our wrists or thrown in jail. There’s also the risk of dealing with a fine or fee, like parking or speeding tickets, for example.

Well, it looks like Google is going through that right now in the EU. They’ve been fined $2.7 billion, or €2.4 billion, for their transgressions.

What did the tech giant do to warrant such a thing? You’re about to find out.

What Did Google Do Wrong?

According to the European Commission, Google fudged when it comes to showing search results for their online shopping tool. Anyone who’s ever used Google search to do some shopping knows that a conveniently placed featured box sits atop the true results. Those results are, in fact, dedicated to Google’s own content.

Therefore, the commission ruled that Google is providing preferential — and illegal — treatment to its own shopping content. This move is considered anti-competitive, and Google has 90 days to remedy the problem.

The commission wants the company to put the same weight on their own search results as they do for the competition. In other words, Google’s results can’t take precedence.

If they don’t comply, they will be fined €2.4 billion, and the fines will continue to compound up to 5 percent of the company’s average annual profits. That could potentially be trillions if Google doesn’t get their act together.

In a recently published blog post, Google explained they don’t agree with the commission. There’s more to it than just being competitive, which Google says is important. They want to put “the products you’re looking for” in front of you, in the best way possible.

Regardless, the fine is coming if Google doesn’t make changes and they don’t put together a successful appeal.

But the fines aren’t the worst thing Google has to contend with. The commission has just set a precedent that may — or may not — haunt Google for years to come.

What’s the Real Problem?

Google has changed their search algorithms and results numerous times, and will continue to do so, as long as they are in business. The problem is not that they have to pay money if they don’t make changes, or even that they have to make changes.

The problem is that regulators and lawmakers are forcing the company to change how things are handled. They are directly influencing the way search operates.

This opens the door to more legislation that would alter or affect the way Google handles search results. But more importantly, it creates the potential for a wide variety of lawsuits from the competition.

How so?

Conventional search results aren’t the only thing affected. You have to remember a variety of platforms and mediums use Google to deliver results. That includes modern AI and voice assistant applications like Siri or Amazon’s Alexa — part of the Echo platform.

Google not only has to make sure web-based search results are up to legal standards, but these other platforms are, as well.

This also means rival shopping sites have precedent — and proof — that can be used to sue Google in European civil court. If the same thing happens in other countries, like the U.S., the list of potential lawsuits could grow even more.

Bear in mind, Google can still appeal the case, and things may be overturned, so things aren’t exactly set in stone. It’s a little early for competitors to weigh in and try to get their just deserts.

This does change the landscape quite a bit, however, and may even affect other search providers like Microsoft and Yahoo.

What Does This Mean for Consumers?

The more important aspect of this, at least to you, is what this means for consumers. How will this ruling rebound on the people who use Google and shop on their platforms?

Google makes a sound argument — their service puts useful results at people’s fingertips. If you like the way the shopping search results work, you may be disappointed to find that will change. If you don’t like them, you’ll be happy.

Though Google is sure to file for an appeal to overturn the ruling, if the company does get forced into changing its search results, the effects will be wide-ranging. It will affect not just what you see when you complete a Google search, but any platforms that rely on Google, as well.

It’s difficult to say if that will be a good or bad change, overall. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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Writing for more than five years, Kayla Matthews contributes to VentureBeat, VICE and MakeUseOf, among other publications. To read more posts by Kayla, check out her blog ProductivityBytes.com.

Master Image via Android Authority


Tags : Google