Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

EU competition enforcer previously fined Google for using their mobile systems to block competitors. (AFP/File)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

  • Google received three fines in the past two years
  • EU Commission says Google has been blocking competitors for the past ten years

BRUSSELS: Google was fined $1.7 billion on Wednesday for blocking rival online search advertisers, the third large European Union antitrust penalty for the Alphabet business in two only years.

The European Commission, which said the fine accounted for 1.29 percent of Google’s turnover in 2018, said in a statement that the anti-competitive practices had lasted a decade.

“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,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The case concerned websites, such as of newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and search adverts. Google’s AdSense for Search provided such search adverts.

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

Last year, Vestager imposed a record $4.92 billion fine on Google for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals. This followed a $2.74 billion fine in June 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

Google is now trying to comply with the order to ensure a level playing field with proposals to boost price comparison rivals and prompt Android users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps. Critics however are still not happy.


Bulgaria: Killer of TV journalist gets 30 years in prison

Viktoria Marinova. (AFP)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Bulgaria: Killer of TV journalist gets 30 years in prison

  • Media watchdog Journalists Without Borders had accused authorities of trying to impede the inquest and sweep the crime under the carpet

SOFIA: A 21-year-old man was Monday sentenced to 30 years in prison for the brutal rape and murder of a Bulgarian television presenter, avoiding a life term after confessing to the crime.
Severin Krasimirov, also Bulgarian, was arrested in Germany where he had fled after assaulting and killing Viktoria Marinova on October 6.
A court in the northeastern Bulgarian city of Ruse also ordered him to pay 450,000 leva (230,000 euros, $259,000) to Marinova’s family.
Prosecutors said the crime was “linked to sexual motives and had no links to the profession of the victim.” They added that Krasimirov was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the “brutal rape.”
The court said Marinova, 30, was killed “in a particularly brutal manner” after being grabbed while jogging in an alley along the Danube.
She was due to present a new program in which she pledged to unveil serious cases of corruption.
Media watchdog Journalists Without Borders had accused authorities of trying to impede the inquest and sweep the crime under the carpet.