Turkish competition board hits Google with $25m fine

Turkey’s competition authority has given Google six months to fix the problem and terminate its “unfair” advertisement strategy. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 November 2020

Turkish competition board hits Google with $25m fine

  • The decision comes amid growing government control of Internet in the country

ANKARA: Google has been hit with a 196.7 million Turkish lira ($25.6 million) fine by the Turkish Competition Board as part of an investigation against the company.

The decision comes amid growing government control of Internet in the country.

The California-based tech giant, which has an office in Turkey, allegedly violated fair competition rules and abused its dominant power in the market through advertising.

Google was also slapped with another 98.3 million Turkish lira fine earlier this year for deploying “aggressive competition tactics.”

Sarphan Uzunoglu, an academic, said: “Google algorithms are both an indication and the most critical actor in the transformation of changing consumer behaviors. Google is a company which has the capacity to determine which goods and services are accessible globally and how.

“With Google Adsense and Google Adwords being used globally, they also dominate the digital advertisement market. We often underestimate one thing: Google has an impact that almost means that Internet equals Google.”

However, attention has turned to the Turkish record on dealing with tech companies.

But, Uzunoglu said, the European Commission also fined Google last year for abusive practices in online advertising, after the company used its dominance to prevent websites from using brokers other than its own advertisement platform.

“It is inevitable that countries monitor Google’s uncontrolled steps as the most powerful actor in the global digital oligopoly. Google’s advertisement strategy has also under EU scrutiny,” he added.

Google is accused of breaching the law by complicating search results in the content services market by placing text ads at the top of organic search results. Therefore, some companies do not show up in searches if they do not generate advertisement revenue for Google.

The tech giant can lodge an appeal against the judgment in the next 60 days.

The company was also fined 98 million Turkish liras by Turkish authorities in September 2018 for violating fair competition law, by prioritizing certain dealers over others under its advertisement space.

Ussal Sahbaz, an Istanbul-based technology expert, said the decision is “unprecedented worldwide.”

“Traditionally, Turkey follows EU decisions about technology companies. However, this time Ankara seems to have become a leader among emerging countries by cornering Google,” he told Arab News.

Experts doubt that the move is related to a Turkish strategy to open a space for Google’s rival, Russian tech company Yandex, as the latter is expected to soon leave the Turkish market.

“For Google, the amount of this fine is insignificant. However, Turkish authorities will release their reasoned decision in a month,” Sahbaz said.

Turkey’s competition authority has given Google six months to fix the problem and terminate its “unfair” advertisement strategy.

According to Sahbaz, Google will be reluctant to abide by the restrictions because they could set a precedent for its operations in other emerging countries.

“However, at the end of the day, there is a risk of a complete shutdown for Google in Turkey. So, I expect some middle compromise will be reached between the parties,” he added.


Bitcoin hits $19,000 for first time in 3 years

Updated 24 November 2020

Bitcoin hits $19,000 for first time in 3 years

  • The world’s most popular cryptocurrency has gained around 160 percent this year

LONDON: Bitcoin hit $19,000 on Tuesday for the first time in nearly three years and was just shy touching an all-time high of just under $20,000.
The world’s most popular cryptocurrency has gained around 160 percent this year, fueled by a demand for risk-on assets amid unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, hunger for assets perceived as resistant to inflation, and expectations that cryptocurrencies would win mainstream acceptance.
Bitcoin has gained over 37 percent in November alone.