EU Regulators Could Fine Google $3.8 Billion
Google is working with European Union regulators to agree upon a settlement to avoid a potential fine of $3.8 billion for antitrust violations.
The European Commission has been investigating the search engine giant for two years following complaints from French and British companies that their sites were being pushed down in search engine results to favor Google’s own competing websites. Other possible antitrust violations the company is being investigated for include copying content from competing search engine services and preventing the development of account transfer tools for AdWords customers.
If the European Commission determines Google has violated antitrust law, they are allowed to fine the company up to 10% of its annual revenue. Google’s revenues in 2011 were $37.9 billion which means they are facing possible consequences of up to $3.8 billion as a result of the EU investigation.
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt recently reached out to the EU to propose a settlement to what could become an extensive and expensive legal battle. The two sides have reached an agreement in principal to bring an end to the two year antitrust investigation.
European Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani said that the EU has, “reached a good degree of understanding on possible solutions.”
A spokesman for Google released the following statement, “We have made a proposal to address the four areas the European Commission described as potential concerns. We continue to work cooperatively with the commission.”
Joaquin Almunia, the EU competition commissioner overseeing the investigation, said in a recent interview, “What was Google’s motto at the beginning? ‘Don’t be evil?’ I hope it continues to be important.”
Almunia is said to be particularly concerned about Google’s manipulation of mobile platforms. The company is facing accusations that it is unfairly using its search engine results to promote its Android mobile operating system in the smartphone and tablet market.