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Google Slapped With Record Antitrust Fine Over Shopping Feature

Google has been called out for not playing fair.

The tech company has been fined 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) after the European Commission found it had distorted the market by promoting its own shopping comparison service, Google Shopping, over others in search results. It’s the largest fine of its type.

Things could get worse if the company doesn’t cease and desist within 90 days. The penalty going forward would be 5 percent of parent company Alphabet’s average daily worldwide earnings. That would amount to $14 million a day, according to the BBC.

For it’s part, Google is considering an appeal.

“When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily,” a Google spokesman said in a statement to the press. “And advertisers want to promote those same products. That’s why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both. We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”

Google Shopping returns results for products along with the details on where they can be purchased. At issue is the fact that sponsored products appear first, and though they are labeled as such, users might have to scroll down to see free results, especially on mobile phones.

“There is this principle that Google has to adhere to being a dominant company, and that is equal treatment in the neighboring markets of shopping comparison services to treat the other companies as they treat themselves,” Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, said in a video interview with Bloomberg.

The EC didn’t provide any guidelines on how the company should go about adhering to the principle Vestager outlined, however.

The EC has been investigating Google Shopping for seven years, and Google’s competitors have stood in support of the proceedings.

The ruling shows Europeans’ wariness of the so-called Gafa (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon), according to the news source.