EU’s Google ad tech probe part of bloc’s antitrust crackdown

LONDON — The European Union’s move on Tuesday to investigate Google’s alleged antitrust behavior in the digital ad tech sector is the bloc’s latest crackdown on U.S. tech giants. In recent years, here’s a look at enforcement actions taken by the EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager.


June 2021: The EU Commission formally investigates whether Google stifles competition in the digital ad technology market by favoring its ad services for buying display ads at the expense of rival services. December 2020: Google’s acquisition of fitness gadget maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion is cleared by the EU Commission after it promised to restrict user data and ensure Android phones work with other wearable devices for at least ten years. Human rights and consumer groups had called on authorities to block the deal over privacy and antitrust concerns.

2019: EU Commission fines Google 1.49 billion euros (now $1.8 billion) for abusing its dominant position as a broker for online search ads, including imposing anticompetitive contracts on third-party websites such as newspapers and blogs that prevent rival search sites from placing their search ads on these sites.

2018: EU Commission fines Google 4.34 billion euros for forcing smartphone makers that use its Android operating system to install Google search and browser apps. In response, Google gives European Android users a choice of browsers and search apps.


2017: EU Commission fines Google 2.42 billion euros for unfairly favoring its online shopping recommendations in its search results and demands it changes how it provides search results in Europe. Google is appealing to all three cases.


November 2020: The EU Commission files charges against, accusing it of unfairly using internal data from independent merchants on its platform to compete against them with its products. The commission also investigates whether the e-commerce giant prefers some products and sellers that use its logistics and delivery systems.


April 2021: The EU Commission charges Apple with violating the bloc’s competition rules in the music streaming market by imposing unfair restrictions for rivals to its Apple Music service in its App Store. Apple’s practice of forcing app developers selling digital content to use its in-house payment system, charging a 30% commission, and its rule forbidding app makers from telling users about cheaper ways to pay ends up raising consumer costs and limiting their choices, the commission said. Apple has until mid-July to respond to the commission.

June 2020: EU Commission opens an investigation into Apple’s payment platform over concerns its practices distort competition by limiting choice and innovation and keeping prices high. It also opens another investigation into the App Store that eventually results in the music streaming charges.


Katie Axon

After leaving the corporate world to pursue my dreams, I started writing because it helped me organize and express myself. It also allowed me to connect with people who share my passion for art, travel, fashion, technology, health, and food. I currently write on vexsh, a site focused on sharing and discovering what it means to be a creative, passionate person living in today's digital age.

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