At a press conference this morning, EU antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager explained that the technology giant had abused its dominant position by forcing clients of its AdSense company to sign contracts saying that they wouldn’t accept advertising from rival search engines.
The fine is the third significant penalty, that the EU has enforced against the technology giant in as many years, and closes its final open probe of the company. Google is now appealing both findings.
Together with the new penalty, Google’s total EU antitrust bill currently stands at $8.2 billion ($9.3 billion). This fine was reduced more than the previous two since Google actively worked with the European Commission to change its AdSense policies after the EU declared its case in 2016.
The policies under scrutiny date back to 2006. Google began selling clients its AdSense for Search product. This let companies like retailers and online papers put a Google search box on their site. When people used the search box, Google revealed advertisements and split the commission with the site’s owners.
However, Google also made clients sign contracts prohibiting them from including rival search engines on their websites alongside Google’s own. In 2009, Google allowed the addition of competing search engines provided that Google was more notable. In 2016, around the time the EU declared its case, the business eliminated these terms.