Google loses appeal to avoid record EU fine

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google on Friday lost its appeal of a record $2.8 billion fine imposed by the European Union for abusing its dominant market position in online search, though the company may…

Google loses appeal to avoid record EU fine

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google on Friday lost its appeal of a record $2.8 billion fine imposed by the European Union for abusing its dominant market position in online search, though the company may have some good news for its customers in Europe.

A three-judge EU panel sided with EU regulators and confirmed a commission decision in June 2017 that held Google had “abused its dominant position by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping service over those of its rivals in search results.”

The EU and U.S. companies such as Yelp have fought in courts and in government tribunals for years over anticompetitive practices in online search advertising and search results.

The EU agency is now ramping up efforts to force U.S. tech companies to disclose more information about their political activity, and some companies including Facebook have started disclosing data on their political spending.

While the EU did not lay out any potential measures, some in the European Parliament have called for “effective legislation” to put the brakes on Google and other big tech companies.

“There is only one way to restrict the abuse of Google’s position: Legislation,” said Christian Wigand, a lawmaker on the parliament’s five-member committee on the economy, industry and digital affairs, in a statement.

Other lawmakers called for a review of Google’s dominance in the digital single market in a coordinated move, as well as an investment in infrastructure and the creation of data protection and privacy rules to protect users.

“Giving the citizens the opportunity to be informed is crucial as we start discussions on future regulation in order to ensure more transparency in our digital economy,” said Virginie Calmels, a French lawmaker on the committee.

Maria Luna, a lawmaker for Spain’s Ciudadanos party, also demanded “full transparency and democracy in the digital marketplace” and the creation of a monitoring mechanism in which interested people could express concerns.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

CEO Sundar Pichai has called the EU’s accusation of abuse of dominance a “thuggish attempt” by the EU to stifle growth of his company.

Bloomberg News reported in July that Pichai had threatened to leave Europe if the EU followed through on the allegations of anti-competitive behavior.

Google is part of a group called the FairSearch Coalition, a group that brought the case to regulators. Google and its industry rivals are also pursuing the case in several U.S. courts.

The commission’s decision reflects widespread public revulsion over anti-competitive business practices, though complaints from U.S. companies in the EU have been quashed.

Meanwhile, the EU has tried to curb Americans’ dominance in financial technology. On Friday it named Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan as a non-executive chairman of the firm.

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