Google could be hit with a fine as high as $3 billion (~£2.09 billion) in the European Commission’s long-running antitrust case against the ad giant’s alleged abuse of dominance in the search market.
The Telegraph reported the potential record-breaking multi-billion penalty on Sunday but noted that the figure hadn’t been decided yet.
Sources have similarly told Ars that Google could be whacked with a fine in June after it was formally charged in April 2015 with favouring its own shopping comparison products over those of its rivals in the European Union.
Such a prohibition decision from officials in Brussels goes far beyond a fine, however. While the suggested $3 billion penalty would represent roughly five percent of Google’s annual turnover, its impact goes a lot further because the search behemoth will also be expected to change its business practices in Europe.
The European Commission says in its antitrust factsheet:
The starting point for the fine is the percentage of the company’s annual sales of the product concerned in the infringement (up to 30 percent). This is then multiplied by the number of years and months the infringement lasted.
The fine can be increased (e.g. repeat offender) or decreased (e.g. limited involvement). The maximum level of fine is capped at 10 percent of the overall annual turnover of the company.
The looming fine is expected to land some weeks after the EC’s competition chief, Margarethe Vestager, issued a second Statement of Objections last month against Google’s alleged abuse of dominance with its Android operating system. The company has been accused of using its powerful position in that market to impose tough restrictions on Android device makers.
Ars sought comment from Google and the commission, but neither party had gotten back to us at time of publication.