France’s competition authority has fined Google €150m (£123m) for anti-competitive behaviour and mistreating advertisers who bought keyword adverts on its search engine.
The search engine giant was accused of “brutal and unjustified” suspension of some advertisers by French authorities, which accused Google of abusing its dominance in the sector.
Isabelle de Silva, head of France’s competition watchdog, said Google has “the power of life and death” over companies dependent on keyword advertising.
“We don’t contest Google’s right to impose rules. But the rules must be clear and imposed equally to all advertisers,” she said.
Google has said it will appeal the ruling.
“People expect to be protected from exploitative and abusive ads and this is what our advertising policies are form” a Google spokesperson said.
They said the search engine giant had suspended an advertiser that was “running ads for websites that deceived people into paying for services on unclear billing terms”.
“We do not want these kinds of ads on our systems, so we suspended [the company] and gave up advertising revenue to protect consumers from harm.”
Google has faced growing regulatory scrutiny in France about the content it promotes via its search results and advertising.
In September, Google agreed to pay French authorities almost €1bn to settle a four-year fiscal fraud investigation.
The fine comes as Google and other US tech giants face intense scrutiny from other European countries over concerns surrounding competition, privacy, and tax.
Facebook yesterday gained a major symbolic victory in a long-running European court case over privacy, after an EU court adviser said tools it uses to transfer citizens’ data abroad are legal.