French antitrust regulators assessed Google with a $593 Million (EUR500 million) fine for failing to provide fair deals to local publishers in exchange for hosting their news content. This fine adds to the many significant penalties the U.S. technology giant has been subject to in Europe over recent years.
“The sanction of 500 million euros takes into account how serious the breaches were observed and how Google has caused further delay in the proper application of law…which aimed better to take into consideration the value of content published by news agencies and included on the platforms,” Isabelle de Silva (President of the French Competition Authority) stated in an official statement.
Tuesday’s fine was the second-highest antitrust penalty that a single company has ever faced in France. A $1.2 million fine hit Apple last year from the competition regulator after the company was found guilty of violating anti-competitive agreements. These agreements were for the sale of non-iPhone products, such as Apple Mac computers. Apple appealed the decision.
Google has been accused of defrauding publishers in Europe of billions of euros of advertising money while they leverage their content. Google’s Google News platform hosts news stories directly from publishers and is therefore particularly contentious. The flip side is that publishers cannot yank their content off Google’s platform since they heavily rely upon it to drive traffic and sales to their websites. Google struck a $76million agreement to pay 121 French Newspapers earlier in the year. AFP and other French publishers were outraged and criticized Google for being opaque. De Silva denied the deal and condemned Google for its limitations in the negotiations. He suggested that Google should not have excluded agency content, such as photos, and that it would pay the same amount to Google for news content, weather information, or dictionary listings.