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Google Slapped With New $347m Fine For Dodgy Practices

24 hours after the G7 nations slapped a minimum 15% tax on Google’s worldwide revenues French authorities have slapped Google with a $347 million dollar fine for abusing its advertising power.

This is not the first time that Google has been slapped with big fines by European authorities for questionable behaviour.

Google was fined €2.36 billion by the EU for blocking rival online search advertisers in 2019.

It was also fined $79 in 2019 by the French data regulator CNIL, for a breach of the EU’s data protection rules.

France’s competition watchdog said Google has been promoting its own online advertising services to the detriment of rivals.

It found that Google’s ad management platform for large publishers, Google Ad Manager, favoured the company’s own online ad marketplace, Google AdX.

Google said it would make changes to its advertising business.

The BBC reported that the US tech giant has agreed to make it easier for publishers to use its data and tools. “We will be testing and developing these changes over the coming months before rolling them out more broadly, including some globally,” the company said.

“The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it’s the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies,” said Isabelle de Silva, chief of France’s Autorité de la concurrence (Competition Authority).

The watchdog said Google Ad Manager provided AdX with strategic data such as the winning bidding prices, while AdX also enjoyed privileged access to requests made by advertisers via Google’s ad services.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said: “The practices put in place by Google to favour its own advertising technologies have affected press groups, whose business model is heavily dependent on ad revenues. These are serious practices and they have been rightly sanctioned.”

The French authority launched its investigation in 2019 following a joint complaint from News Corp, French news publishing group Le Figaro and Belgian press group Rossel.

It said its decision opens the way for publishers who felt disadvantaged to seek damages from Google.

“While we believe we offer valuable services and compete on the merits, we are committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products,” said Maria Gomri, legal director, Google France.

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