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Google loses appeal; EU court upholds €2.4 billion antitrust fine

Google’s appeal against a huge EU competition penalties for squeezing competing shopping services on its search engine was dismissed on Wednesday.

The European Commission concluded after years of research that the US internet giant had routinely given preferential treatment to its own shopping service while demoting competitors in search results.

In 2017, the European Commission fined Google €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion). It was the first of three antitrust fines the EU’s executive branch has levied on Google in recent years, totaling more than €8 billion.

Google complied with the ruling and altered its shopping services, but it is appealing the penalties. The fine was “wrong on the law, the facts, and the economics,” according to the firm.

On Wednesday, however, the EU General Court dismissed the appeal.

Following many complaints from European and US rivals, the Commission launched an investigation into the case in November 2010. The European Court of Justice, the bloc’s top court, can still hear the case.

Meanwhile, the UK Supreme Court on Wednesday halted a proposed 3.2 billion pound ($4.3 billion) British class action lawsuit against Google over allegations that the firm had illegally tracked millions of iPhone users’ personal information.

The country’s highest justices unanimously approved an appeal in the country’s first such data privacy case, putting a stop to a slew of other similar lawsuits against corporations like Facebook and TikTok.

The accusation, according to Google, is linked to events that occurred a decade ago and were resolved at the time.

Between 2011 and 2012, Google allegedly covertly collected over 5 million Apple iPhone customers’ personal data by circumventing default privacy settings on the Safari browser to track internet browsing history, according to Richard Lloyd, a consumer rights campaigner.

The antitrust decision comes amid a flurry of attempts to rein in big US internet corporations such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft. The GAFAM firms have been accused of evading taxes, restricting competition, stealing media material, and endangering democracy by distributing fake news.

Microsoft was fined €561 million by the EU in 2013 for forcing its browser Internet Explorer on Windows 7 customers. Meanwhile, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook have all been investigated by the EU for alleged infringement of competition laws, and EU judges have decided that digital companies that break the rules would face higher fines.

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