April 20, 2019

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Google Fined $1.7 Billion by E.U. for Unfair Advertising Rules

Google Fined $1.7 Billion by E.U. for Unfair Advertising Rules
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The different rulings haven’t had a big impact on Google’s financial health — Alphabet’s revenue last year was $137 billion — but they have forced the tech giant to adjust some business practices.

After the Android ruling last year, Google began charging handset makers to pre-install Gmail, Google Maps and other popular applications for Android devices in the European Union.

Perhaps in an attempt to head off additional inquiries, Google on Wednesday announced a number of further changes to services across Europe, after complaints from rivals that it continues to benefit from anticompetitive business practices.

For the first time, the company said, it would allow users in Europe to switch to another web browser and search engine on Android. To allow more competition when customers shop with Google, the company also said it would give other shopping sites more prominence in its search results. Google said it would do the same with local search queries, such as when a person browses for a restaurant, a move that could help companies such as TripAdvisor and OpenTable in Europe.

Over the course of their yearslong review of Google’s and others’ practices, European regulators have adopted tough new privacy rules that many countries outside Europe now view as a template. Regulators here have also investigated tech companies’ tax practices and called for more scrutiny of artificial intelligence.

Such pressure on the technology industry is not easing. The European Union is expected to adopt new copyright regulations as early as next week that will impose restrictions to stop unlicensed content, such as music and videos, from being shared on tech platforms like Google and Facebook. Another proposal attempts to block the sharing of hate speech and extremist content, a policy that some critics say could lead to censorship.

At the same time, regulators across Europe are pursuing several lines of inquiry.

Ms. Vestager’s office announced last year that Amazon is under investigation for its treatment of independent sellers who use its website to reach customers.

Apple, which in 2017 was forced to pay back taxes in Ireland, is under scrutiny for its App Store policies. Facebook is facing separate investigations in several European countries for potential privacy violations. Google’s advertising practices are also being monitored by privacy advocates who are urging regulators to begin a new investigation for violating privacy rights.



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