PARIS (Reuters) – France’s competitors watchdog fined Google (GOOGL.O) 150 million euros ($167 million) on Friday for abusing its energy over the remedy of advertisers, saying it utilized opaque guidelines and altered them at will.
FILE PHOTO: A brand is pictured at Google’s European Engineering Heart in Zurich, Switzerland July 19, 2018.REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
It’s the first penalty imposed by the French antitrust watchdog in opposition to the U.S. tech firm in a lot of clashes with French authorities, and as Google faces a rising variety of investigations into its enterprise practices on each side of the Atlantic.
Google mentioned it might attraction the choice.
The authority’s investigation took 4 years and adopted a criticism filed by Gibmedia, a French firm that manages a variety of internet sites providing climate forecasts, company knowledge and directories.
Gibmedia had accused Google of getting suspended its Google Adverts account with out discover.
The regulator mentioned that by altering its phrases of use and guidelines at will, Google had abused its market energy.
“The best way the principles are utilized give Google an influence of life or loss of life over some small companies that reside solely on this sort of service,” the pinnacle of the authority, Isabelle de Silva, mentioned at a information convention.
The French regulator mentioned Google had an absence of objectivity and predictability in defining the principles on Google Adverts, the gateway for advertisers that want to seem within the sponsored part of search outcomes.
With a market share of round 90% within the on-line search enterprise, Google has a duty to supply a good entry to Google Adverts, the regulator added.
“One of many nice rules of competitors regulation is that with nice energy comes nice duty,” de Silva mentioned.
“It’s additionally Spider-Man’s motto,” she famous, referring to the fictional superhero.
Google mentioned it blocked Gibmedia as a result of it was operating advertisements for web sites that deceived folks into paying for companies on unclear billing phrases.
“We are not looking for these sorts of advertisements on our programs, so we suspended Gibmedia and gave up promoting income to guard shoppers from hurt,” Google mentioned in assertion.
Gibmedia refuted the allegation.
“Gibmedia has by no means been convicted of any misleading apply and it’s unacceptable to see that Google, which has simply been as soon as once more condemned for anti-competitive practices, has no different protection than to assault its sufferer,” mentioned Hervé Lehman, Gibmedia’s lawyer.
In September, Google agreed to pay near 1 billion euros to French authorities to settle a fiscal fraud probe that started 4 years in the past.
In January, France’s knowledge safety watchdog had fined Google 50 million euros for breaching European Union on-line privateness guidelines.
The info safety watchdog said in its January ruling that Google lacked transparency and readability in the best way it knowledgeable customers about its dealing with of non-public knowledge, and had didn’t correctly acquire their consent for customized advertisements.
Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; modifying by Jane Merriman and Elaine Hardcastle