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Major penalty levelled at Google over e-commerce search scandal

27 June 2017 - 14:26 by Mike Price

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Search giant Google will have to pay up to €2 billion (£1.76 billion) to EU regulators after it was found guilty of dodgy search practices which led to its own listings for safe shopping online appearing above those of its rivals on its search engine, according to the Daily Mail.

This is almost twice the previous record fine that computer component firm Intel had to pay after an investigation eight years ago. And in addition to the cash settlement, Google will also be expected to alter the way it operates within European countries to comply with anti-trust regulations.

It could theoretically be possible for the regulators to fine Google €8 billion in this case, as this represents a tenth of its revenues and is the maximum allowable penalty. But estimates prior to the decision being made were much lower.

A spokesperson for Google said that the firm was eager to maintain its constructive relationship with EU regulators and said that its search tools had made it easier for consumers to carry out safe shopping online and get the best prices.

Google has been under scrutiny over the way it displays shopping results for the past seven years, with investigators determining that it was guilty of the claims made by competitors including Microsoft.

Many people who want to enjoy shopping online use Google as their first port of call when looking for products. And the search firm has been attempting to integrate more e-commerce features directly with its engine, meaning that consumers are less likely to head to other sites.

The fact that this fine is so steep is a reflection of the scale of this issue, at least in the eyes of regulators, as well as being a measure which should dissuade other organisations from taking a similar approach.