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Google says the EU's hardline antitrust punishments threaten internet innovation as it starts the first of three legal battles against $9 billion in EU fines

Google says the EU's hardline antitrust punishments threaten internet innovation as it starts the first of three legal battles against $9 billion in EU fines
Google says the EU's hardline antitrust punishments threaten internet innovation as it starts the first of three legal battles against $9 billion in EU fines

Google says internet innovation is threatened by the EU's antitrust regulation as begins to challenge $9 billion worth of EU fines.

  • Google says the EU's policy of imposing large fines over antitrust concerns threatens internet innovation, as it starts a legal challenge against the first of three fines which total more than $9 billion.
  • The US tech giant is currently contesting a €2.4 billion ($2.62 billion) fine handed to it by the EU in 2017 for alleged anticompetitive practices concerning its Google Shopping price comparison service.
  • It has received two other huge fines from the EU since then for $5 billion and $1.7 billion, both on antitrust grounds.
  • According to Bloomberg, Google's lawyer Thomas Graf told the EU's General Court Wednesday that Google "would have had no other option but to abandon its innovative technologies and its improved designs" had a similar fine been imposed on it in a decade earlier.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A mammoth legal battle between Google and the EU has just begun – and Google has wasted no time marshaling its arguments.

Google says the EU's policy of imposing large fines over antitrust concerns threatens internet innovation, as it starts the first of three legal challenges against a total of $9 billion in EU fines.

The US tech giant is currently contesting a €2.4 billion ($2.6 billion) fine handed to it by the EU in 2017 for allegedly abusing its dominance as a search engine to give an unfair advantage to its own shopping comparison service.

Google has received two more large fines from the EU since then. In July 2018 it was hit with a €4.3 billion ($5 billion) fine for allegedly abusing its dominant position of its Android operating system, and a third  €1.49 billion ($1.7 billion) fine came in March 2019 for allegedly blocking its online advertising rivals.

According to Bloomberg, Google's lawyer Thomas Graf told he EU's General Court Wednesday that Google "would have had no other option but to abandon its innovative technologies and its improved designs" had a similar fine been imposed on it a decade earlier.

How to square innovation and regulation is an issue contested by tech firms and governments since time immemorial, but the sheer bullishness of the EU – typified by its tireless competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager – has brought the issue into focus like never before.

In recent years, Vestager has handed out multi-billion dollar fines to big tech firms with startling regularity.

As well as handing out the three Google fines, Vestager fined Apple €13 billion ($14 billion) in August 2016 for accepting alleged illegal state aid from Ireland.

Just last month, Apple mounted a similar argument to Google's, claiming that the EU's regulation "stifles innovation" as it fights the EU's ongoing attempts to standardize phone chargers.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has often played the regulation-threatens-innovation card, too. Speaking to the European Parliament in May 2018 in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he said future regulation of social media needs to "allow for innovation."

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