European court confirms Google’s billion-dollar fine in monopoly discussion

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European court confirms Google’s billion-dollar fine in monopoly discussion

The General Court of the EU (European Union) confirmed on Wednesday (10) a heavy fine to the digital giant Google in the amount of 2.424 billion euros (BRL 15.4 billion), imposed for abuse of the dominant position of its mechanism. online price comparison.

The court rejected a Google appeal against the fine, originally imposed by the European Commission’s antitrust authority in 2017 and which at the time represented an unprecedented amount in the bloc.

The case focuses on Google’s price comparison engine, which favored its own tool, Google Shopping, over other companies in displaying results. The authorities assessed that the system violates the European norm on free competition.

The EU General Court recognized the anti-competitive nature of the practice, found it to have “harmful effects” and rejected Google’s arguments to justify the conduct.

In this way, the court “concludes the analysis considering that the value of the pecuniary fine imposed on Google must be confirmed”, highlighted the institution in a statement.

The appeal against the fine had been filed by Google and its parent, Alphabet.

Without any doubt, the court said that it “discards most of the lawsuit filed by the two companies and maintains the fine imposed by the Commission [Europeia]”.

A spokesman for Google’s European division said in a statement that it would “carefully review” the decision.

The company recalled that it adopted changes to the price comparison mechanism “in 2017 to comply with the decision of the European Commission. Our approach has worked successfully for more than three years.”

After the decision, Google now has only the possibility to appeal to the main legal body of the bloc, the EU Court of Justice, also based in Luxembourg.

For the European Commission, the verdict “is a clear message that Google’s conduct was illegal, and provides the necessary legal clarity to the market.”

The Commission “will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to address the role of large digital platforms,” ​​it added in a statement.

The investigation was opened in 2010 for complaints filed by companies that felt harmed by Google Shopping, such as TripAdvisor or the French company Twenga.

When announced, this fine was the highest in EU history, but in 2018 it was surpassed by another €4.3 billion (BRL 27.3 billion) sanction on Google for its control over the use of the system. Android operating on smartphones.

In addition, in 2019, the EU punished Google with a €1.5 billion ($9.5 billion) fine for anti-competitive practices by its AdSense ad network.

The legal battle between the European Commission and Google is just one chapter in Brussels’ efforts against the digital giants and their tax and commercial practices.

EU Antimonopoly Commissioner Margrethe Vestager had already taken Apple to court to demand that the company pay €13 billion (R$82.7 billion) to Irish taxpayers, but the case was defeated in court.

The European Commission is promoting ambitious new legislation to control the activities of the digital giants in the bloc, with two parallel laws whose approvals are being negotiated with the European Parliament.

It is a Law on Digital Services and another on Digital Markets, which imposes strict limits on the actions of giants such as the so-called GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft).

victory in uk

This Wednesday (10), however, Google won a victory in British Justice. The local court threw out a class action suit that accused the company of illegally using personal data on iPhones.

The decision saves Google from a hefty fine. The lawsuit asked for payment of up to US$4.069 billion (R$22.3 billion) in damages and losses to consumers.

The British Supreme Court ruled that the association “Google You Owe Us” (“Google You Owe Us”), led by former director of consumer advocacy group Which?, Richard Lloyd, failed to demonstrate harm to users.

The association lamented in a statement “the heavy blow to UK consumers and the impossibility of demonstrating uniformity of harm to all claimants”.

“To receive compensation for damages, it is necessary to prove that there was an illegal use by Google of the personal data of a specific individual”, states the Supreme Court statement, which summarizes the decision of Justice George Leggatt.

Claiming damages without demonstrating “that the individual suffered material damage or mental distress as a result of this illicit use is therefore invalid and the authorization to sue Google outside its jurisdiction”, ie the United States, “was correctly rejected at first instance, concluded the judge.

“Google Yoy Owe Us” lead attorney James Oldnall of Milberg said, “Today’s decision gives Google and the rest of tech companies the green light to continue to misuse our personal data without our consent , and knowing that they will not be punished”.

In the first instance, the High Court of London denied in October 2018 the continuation of the class action. A year later, the Court of Appeal ruled otherwise, prompting Google to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The association accused Google of circumventing the iPhone’s security options and compiling personal data between August 2011 and February 2012 via the Safari browser.

On demand, the company collected information about users’ social or ethnic origin, health, political opinions, sexual preferences or purchasing habits. The lawsuit also claims that the information was offered to advertisers.

A similar case was brought to court in the UK in 2015 by three individuals. They reached a confidential agreement that opened the door to a collective demand, according to “Google You Owe Us”.

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