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The victory gives momentum to the European Commission-led campaign against the Big Tech.
The appeal of Google LLC (NASDAQ: GOOGL) against the 2017 antitrust fine slapped by the European Commission has faced a big blow. Europe’s General Court has upheld the watchdog’s claims against Google’s breach of antitrust rules. This provides a major thrust to the ongoing campaign of Competition Chief Margrethe Vestager targeting the Big Tech blocking the visibility of domestic businesses.
Google and the Antitrust Case
In its ruling supporting the 2017 claim, the European Court dismissed Google’s appeal against the Commission’s accusations of the search engine abusing its principal position by preferring in-house comparison shopping services over the competing ones.
It agreed with the Commission’s complaints on Google impacting competition business and supported the penalty amount taking into account the seriousness of the violation. It announced that Google’s conduct in every way was intentional and therefore deserving of the punishment. When asked for a comment on the loss, the largest search engine company said it would evaluate the judgment. However, the representative did not give any clarity on whether or not it would approach the EU’s highest court of justice.
European Commission and Its Continued War against the Silicon Tech Giants
This wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time an antitrust case was slapped by the European Commission on a tech firm. However, it has not won the case every time. In a July 2020 ruling by the EU’s General Court, the Commission’s case against Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) enjoying an unfair tax advantage from the Irish government was proven false. It gave a significant blow to the Competition Chief’s growing battle for big tech regulation in Europe. However, the case is now pending at Europe’s highest court.
According to specialists of antitrust regulations, Google might get defeated in the other two appeals as well that involve its Android system and the AdSense service. If that happens, Google might end up paying a total fine of 8.25 billion euros to the EU resulting in the latter’s big win against the big tech firm. Although these cases against the ruling search engine would target its main business of display advertising, the punishments are minuscule when compared to the company’s massive profits.
With the European Union’s persistent efforts at a crackdown on the favouritism of these big technology firms and the Digital Markets Act on its journey to get legal authorization, the European market is soon going to be a difficult terrain for these big firms. The Act would force the giants to significantly change their business models to suit the new laws. Also, it would give a big boost to Europe’s local and smaller businesses.
However, the search engine has just lost a battle and not the war. It achieved victory in a class-action lawsuit filed against it with a penalty of $4.3 billion. The case in question accused Google of infringing privacy by tracking the personal information of about 4 million iPhone users. Similar cases filed against others might also face the same fate.
In her pursuit of providing equal opportunities, Margrethe Vestager, the Competition Chief, has kept antitrust law at the centre of her campaign. The Antitrust laws encourage as well as shield competition in the economy to avoid concentration of power in any one firm’s hand. This would also give a boost to Europe’s domestic markets competing with the big tech companies in acquiring market share.