Google was slapped with a historic $2.7 billion fine by the European Union over antitrust issues on Tuesday. Though this was an important event, one behind-the-scenes event that’s related to the EU’s verdict is a very interesting piece that must not be overlooked.
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Seven U.S. tech firms support the EU’s decision
Seven U.S. tech firms rendered their full support in the form of a duly written and signed letter of support, in which they expressed their regard for the European Union. These seven U.S. tech firms are Oracle, Trip, Yelp, News Corporation, Getty Images, News Media Alliance and Disconnect.
In their letter, which was sent a day before the announcement of the historic fine, the seven U.S. tech firms stated that they together represent companies that employ hundreds of workers across all 50 U.S. states, notes Recode. Further, the letter read that for several years, Google has unabashedly hurt competition in the United States and elsewhere.
“As U.S. based companies, we wish to go on record that enforcement action against Google is necessary and appropriate, not provincial. We have watched Google undermine competition in the United States and abroad. Google operates on a global scale and across the entire online ecosystem, destroying jobs and stifling innovation,” the letter read.
Following the ruling, Yelp’s head of public policy, Luther Lowe, told Vice News, “I don’t think the type of sympathy that was there a year or two ago [for Google], is still there.”
Why these companies are against Google
On Tuesday after announcing the fine, European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said the search giant had been involved in an unethical promotion of its own shopping comparison services against those of its rivals.
“That is an abuse. It is illegal under European antitrust law,” Vestager said yesterday.
The European Commissioner for Competition also said that Google has been doing harm since 2008, and no European country where Google Shopping has rolled out is left out from that.
Google now needs to offer a level playing field to rivals and has 60 days to come up with a plan. Google, which earns most of its money from advertising, has decided to appeal the fine. In a statement, Google’s general counsel Kent Walker said that the company’s shopping search results are relevant to users, adding that the company “respectfully disagrees with the conclusions announced today.”
The EU Competition Commission, on the other hand, makes it clear that if Google decides not to comply, it will face further fines amounting to 5% of its average daily worldwide revenue.
It’s not the first time Google has come under the microscope for anti-competitive activities in the EU. The search giant came under fire in 2014 when the European Parliament proposed a non-binding resolution under which search engine providers were asked to uncouple services from more commercial practices. Vestager also accused Google’s Android of promoting its apps and services to customers.
Apart from the European Union, Google was also under fire in the United States when the Federal Trade Commission followed the company for almost a decade.