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Old 27-Jun-2017, 12:50   #1
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European Commission fines Google 2.42 billion

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The European Commission has fined Google 2.42 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.

The company must now end the conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company.
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1784_en.htm

If anyone is wondering what 5% of worldwide turnover of Alphabet is, For FY16 they had a revenue of approx. $90.27b, that leaves a fine accruing approx. $12.3m / day if they are non-compliant.
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 12:59   #2
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Given the nature of the Internet, what recourse do the EU have if Google/Alphabet ultimately turn around with a middle finger?
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 13:52   #3
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Well I imagine it isn't a lot of hassle for Google to comply to this and pay up. It'd just be some technical measures to tweak to their search results for EU clients and suppress the shopping links. I'm just surprised it got to this stage. Presumably the Commission told them to fix it ages ago.

OTOH the global scope of multinational corporations and their ability to evade local regulations, laws and enforcement by simply relocating all or part of their business elsewhere is something certainly worth discussing on it's own merits, Googles misbehaviour notwithstanding. We could just consider the tax avoidance, anticompetitive behaviour as in this case or go full on Roller Ball dystopian nightmare?
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 14:07   #4
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Very hard for Alphabet to get out of this given the vast number of people they have based in the EU.
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 14:15   #5
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Turns out collective bargaining is pretty powerful. Who'd have thunk it.
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 14:20   #6
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Originally Posted by EvilGrin View Post
Presumably the Commission told them to fix it ages ago.
2010 apparently according to the BBC article.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-40406542

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC
The European Commission has been investigating Google Shopping since late 2010.

The probe was spurred on by complaints from Microsoft, among others.
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 14:23   #7
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Turns out collective bargaining is pretty powerful. Who'd have thunk it.
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 14:24   #8
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 14:36   #9
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Apropos of nothing, I was at Mountain View last week. Google spends $200m just on buying food for its employees in the Bay area. Restaurant quality food in over 50 sites serving 65,000 meals daily. Not saying $2.5bn won't hurt but they don't seem to be doing too badly.
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 15:08   #10
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They could appeal this and kick the can down the road. As other tech companies have done according to the BBC article:

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC
  • Microsoft (2008) - the Windows-developer was fined €899m for failing to comply with earlier punishments, imposed over its refusal to share key code with its rivals and the bundling of its Explorer browser with its operating system. Five years later, it was told to pay a further €561m for failing to comply with a pledge to provide users a choice screen of browsers
  • Intel (2009) - the chip-maker was ordered to pay €1.06bn for skewing the market by offering discounts conditional on computer-makers avoiding products from its rivals. Intel challenged the fine, and a final court ruling in the matter is expected in 2018
  • Qualcomm (2015) - the chip-maker was accused of illegally paying a customer to use its technology and selling its chipsets below cost to push a rival out of the market. If confirmed, it faces a fine that could top €2bn, but the case has yet to be resolved
  • Apple (2016) - Ireland was ruled to have given up to €13bn of illegal tax benefits to the iPhone-maker since 1991, and was ordered to recover the funds plus interest from the company. However, Dublin missed the deadline it was given to do so and has said it will appeal
  • Facebook (2017) - the social network agreed to pay a €110m fine for saying it could not match user accounts on its main service to those of WhatsApp when it took over the instant messaging platform, and then doing just that two years later
The commission is also investigating Amazon over concerns that a tax deal struck with Luxembourg gave it an unfair advantage.
Also from the BBC article was this section that I found interesting:

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC
At her press conference, Margrethe Vestager insisted her action was "based on facts" rather than any prejudice the European Commission might have against US tech companies.

"We have heard allegations of being biased against US companies," she said.

"I have been going through the statistics... I can find no facts to support any kind of bias."
I wonder if there is a general fear in the EU of the dominance of US tech companies being able to dictate where the world goes technologically? It seems the BBC thinks so (But I suppose they would, given they are the competition):

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC
There's mounting anxiety in European capitals about something called Gafa - Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon - the four American giants that play such a huge role in all of our lives.
I await some inane tweets from Trump on the subject with complete disinterest.
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Old 27-Jun-2017, 15:43   #11
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There's certainly a sentiment that US tech firms are being unfairly bullied by the EU and the US Treasury department have already echoed their disquiet in previous statements. The largest tech firms are all in the US, China, Korea / Japan. I can really only think of SAP AG as a competitor on that scale.
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