Google Seeks To Settle EU's Latest Advertising Antitrust Probe

Google is trying to persuade the European Commission to engage in talks to settle its antitrust investigation of Google’s digital advertising business, according to a Reuters source.

The commission is set to probe whether Google has been limiting third-party access to user data for use in advertising on its sites and apps, while employing the data to its own advantage.

The source “familiar with the matter” declined to provide details, and neither Google or the commission commented on the report.

Three EU antitrust cases over the past decade have already cost Google more than $9 billion in fines.

In hearings in Europe’s second-highest court next week, Google will seek to overturn a record $5.15-billion EU antitrust fine resulting from a 2018 European Commission ruling that it had used its Android mobile operating system to thwart competition.

If Google can reach a settlement in the latest EU probe, it would avoid a fine as well as a finding of wrongdoing, according to Reuters.

However, in the EU’s past three Google cases, antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager chose to levy sanctions rather than negotiate settlements.

If Vestager did agree to settlement talks, that process could take months or years.

In June, Google settled antitrust charges brought by French regulators by agreeing to pay nearly $270 million in fines, to stop giving its own services preferential treatment on its advertising platforms, and to change its systems to make it easier for competitors to use its online advertising tools. The company did not admit any wrongdoing.

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