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Google fights £2.1bn fine over shopping service positioning on search engine

The Silicon Valley giant has filed an appeal with the General Court of the European Union

Google has launched an appeal against a record 2.42 billion euro (£2.1 billion) fine from Europe’s competition watchdog for breaching antitrust rules with its online shopping service.

The Silicon Valley giant has filed an appeal with the General Court of the European Union after stating previously that it “respectfully” disagreed with the European Commission’s conclusions.

The penalty comes after the competition referee launched an investigation into Google Shopping seven years ago, amid complaints it gave the service a prominent position on the internet search engine, while rival services were demoted.

Google's Europe, Middle East and Africa HQ in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

The European Commission told the internet search giant in June that it had 90 days to stop the practice or face a penalty of up to 5% of the average daily turnover of the firm’s parent company, Alphabet.

The watchdog found that Google handed its comparison shopping service an illegal advantage in 13 European Economic Area countries, including in the United Kingdom and Germany where it was launched in 2008.

The abuse caused traffic to Google’s shopping service to jump 45-fold in the United Kingdom, 35-fold in Germany and 19-fold in France.

However, the demotions to rival websites triggered a sharp reduction in traffic, with some UK sites seeing visitor numbers plunge 85%.

The fine handed to Google was a significant hike on the previous record penalty of 1.06 billion euro (£937 million) dished out by the commission to US microchip firm Intel in 2009.

The EU is also investigating whether Google tried to squeeze out its rivals in online search advertising and through its Android mobile operating system.

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