In a move that elevated growing calls for breaking up tech giants, European regulators on Wednesday hit Alphabet’s Google with its third antitrust fine in two years—this time, fining the company nearly $1.7 billion.
“Breaking up big tech isn’t the only solution, but it’s the necessary first step to actually addressing the problem of big tech.”
—Matt Stoller, Open Markets Institute
The new penalty comes in response to Google’s “illegal practices in search advertising brokering to cement its dominant market position,” in violation of European Union (EU) anti-competition rules.
It follows fines of $2.7 billion for Google’s online shopping search results in 2017 and $5 billion for its Android mobile operating system and applications last year—bringing the two-year total to more than $9 billion.
“Google is dominant when it comes to online advertising brokerage market, with market shares in Europe of above 70 percent,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner for competition. “Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform.”
Former New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout celebrated the penalty. “Europe is cracking down on Google’s corrupt business model,” she tweeted. “The abuse of power is real. But the tide has changed.”
“The U.S. should act too,” Teachout said, pointing to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) plan to break up tech giants. While unveiling her plan this month, the senator and 2020 presidential candidate charged that companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook have “ too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy.”
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute, concurred with Teachout and Warren. “Breaking up big tech isn’t the only solution,” he said, “but it’s the necessary first step to actually addressing the problem of big tech.”
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