Google fined $1.7 billion by EU for blocking advertising rivals

European Union regulators fined Google almost $1.7 billion for for abusing its dominant role in online advertising.

The fine of 1.49 billion euros, or $1.68 billion, was announced by the EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday. The penalty is the result of a long-running probe of Google’s AdSense advertising business case.

The EU found Google’s anti-competitive behavior extended back at least a decade and hurt other businesses and consumers, Vestager said. The EU added that consumers or businesses could also bring civil actions against Google if they had been affected by its anti-competitive actions.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites,” Vestager said in a statement. “This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

It’s the third time the commission has slapped Google with an antitrust penalty, following multibillion-dollar fines resulting from separate probes into two other parts of the Silicon Valley giant’s business.

Last year Vestager hit the company with a record 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) fine following an investigation into its Android operating system. In 2017, she slapped Google with a 2.42 billion euro fine in a case involving its online shopping search results.

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