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Expert comment on Google appealing its £2.2bn EU fine

Posted by Warwick Business School at 13 September 2017, 12:30 CET |
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Zhewei Zhang, of Warwick Business School, Assistant Professor of Information Systems and researches digital innovation and design, comments on Google appealing its £2.2bn EU fine.

"Much of the media's attention has been on the first of the EU's rulings that Google 'has systematically given prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service'.

"That's probably what Google wants because it is arguable that it should count as 'abusing its dominance'. This is really a grey area as Google marks these as 'sponsored' ads. And to some extent, it is similar to the cases of maps services or video services where Google's own services - Google Maps and Youtube - are usually displayed on top. This is also how Google argues it is improving consumers' search experience. It may take ages to battle with Google's lawyers on this point.

"However, I think the EU's second ruling -  'Google has demoted rival comparison shopping services in its search results' - is actually much more important if it is true.

"The EU says the result is based on analysis of 1.7 billion real-world search queries. This means Google manipulated the search results to lower its competitors' rank, which can be the hard evidence to support the EU's fine on Google abusing its dominance. Unless Google can prove this is wrong, I don't think Google can easily get out of the fine."

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