Google May Face EU Antitrust Charges Over Its Digital Advertising Business


Alphabet unit Google could face antitrust charges next year over its digital advertising business, with EU regulators frustrated over the slow pace of settlement talks with the company, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Google‘s ad business is Alphabet‘s biggest moneymaker, accounting for about 80 percent of annual revenue, despite efforts over the past decade to push into selling hardware, subscription services and cloud computing technology. The European Commission launched an investigation into Google’s adtech business in June last year, concerned that the US tech giant may be getting an unfair advantage over rivals and advertisers.

The company, which risks its fourth billion-EUR fine, subsequently sought to settle the case but concessions were minor and very preliminary, one of the people said. Google has racked up more than EUR 8 billion (nearly Rs. 64,100 crore) in EU antitrust fines in the last decade. The EU competition enforcer is likely to issue the charges early next year although the timing may still change, one of the people said.

The Commission declined to comment. Google, which is the world’s leading seller of online advertising, well ahead of Facebook and Instagram owner Meta Platforms, had no immediate comment.

Last month, Google was reported to be facing similar claims for damages to the tune of EUR 25.4 billion (roughly Rs. 2,04,500 crore) in two lawsuits. The Alphabet-owned firm was reportedly facing action in a Dutch court and the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, over the company’s digital advertising practices.

Publishers have previously complained about the firm’s adtech practices, prompting investigations from regulators in Europe.

Previously, Google was reported to be facing scrutiny into its adtech practices by both the European Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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