Google is staring down another set of European Commission antitrust charges – the third since April 2015 – and this one could end up costing the tech giant as much as $7 billion in fines.
According to The New York Times, the new charges are aimed at Google's advertising products, which the EU accuses of restricting consumer choice. Specifically, the charges allege that Google abused its majority market share in online advertising to foist restrictive contracts onto companies wishing to offer Google search products via third-party websites.
The practice effectively stifles competition, according to EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, who said her division had new evidence to support the claims, which also include potential harm to consumers who may be denied the most relevant search results because of Google.
Google has been under investigation in the EU for years and has been fighting off antitrust charges in the region. In April last year, the European Commission (EC) began investigating Google over antitrust allegations that the company was leveraging its dominant Android mobile operating system to favor its own services. The Android probe sought to find out if Google had "illegally hindered the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems, mobile communication applications and services" by forcing exclusive Google app pre-installs on Android OEMs.
According to Fortune, Google has filed for extension in assembling its defense against the Android charges.
Now Google has until the fall to formally respond to the latest set of charges.
In a statement, Google said it believes its innovations and product improvements have "increased choice for EU consumers and promote competition."
"We'll examine the Commission's renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks," Google said in a statement.
In addition to its troubles in Europe, Google has drawn scrutiny for its market practices in the U.S. In June, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) in a speech called out Google – along with Apple and Amazon – for using its dominant market position to "snuff out competition."
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