France fines Google $270 million for ‘unfair advertising practices’

London, United Kingdom (CNN) — Google will pay a fine of 220 million euros ($270 million) and make changes to its massive online advertising business, as part of an antitrust settlement with French regulators.

The punishment comes as the tech giant faces several US lawsuits over anti-competitive behavior and could lead to similar agreements with officials elsewhere. Facebook, another dominant player in the world of digital advertising, is also under separate investigation by European Union regulators over allegations that its use of data gives it an unfair market advantage.

In a statement on Monday, France’s competition authority said it had fined Google for “abusing its dominant position” in the online advertising market at the expense of rival platforms and publishers.

The agency accused Google of favoring Google Ad Manager, the company’s platform for managing ads for major publishers. Google has done so by favoring its own online ad market, AdX, where publishers sell space to advertisers, according to the French regulator.

“The decision to sanction Google is particularly significant because it is the first in the world to examine the complex algorithmic bid processes through which online display ads operate,” Isabelle de Silva, head of France’s antitrust authority, said in a statement.

Google committed to making it easier for publishers in France to use its data and use its tools with other advertising technologies as part of the settlement agreement. “We will test and develop these changes over the coming months before rolling them out more widely, including some globally. We are committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to improve our products,” the company said in a statement.

De Silva said the fine and Google’s obligations would restore “a level playing field for all players and publishers’ ability to make the most of their ad space.”

The case followed complaints from News Corp, French news publishing group Le Figaro and Belgian newspaper group Roussel.

Earlier this year, Google agreed to pay French news publishers for their content in a landmark agreement under new copyright laws. It later signed similar deals with News Corp and Seven West Media in Australia.

Google faces several antitrust cases in the United States, including one brought by the federal government, which accuses the company of exercising an illegal monopoly in the online search and search advertising markets.


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