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Google faces a potentially massive fine for breaking antitrust rules in the EU

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For over a year, Google has been the subject of an investigation by the European Commission relating to accusations of anti-competitive practices. Now, there’s word that the company is about to be hit with a likely hefty fine as the Commission prepares to share its findings and administer sanctions.

Companies found to have breached antitrust rules in the European Union can be made to pay a penalty equal to 10 percent of its global turnover, according to a report from Reuters. As a result, Google could in theory be required to pay as much as $9 billion based on its financial performance in 2016.

The European Commission has been looking into this matter for seven years. The investigation was prompted by complaints from rival search engines in the U.S. and Europe, who claimed that Google distorts its search results to give an unfair advantage to its own shopping services.

As well as the fine, it’s likely that the Commission will force Google to modify its practices, although it’s not entirely clear how this action will play out. It’s possible that best practices could be laid out in broad strokes, but there’s also a chance that specific directions could be put in place for the company to adhere to.

Google has previously made three attempts to settle the matter, all of which were unsuccessful. At this point, it seems that the writing is on the wall, and a final ruling is set to be made public before the European Commission’s summer recess, which is scheduled to begin in August.

If Google is found to be guilty of wrongdoing, the decision could have an impact on two other accusations of anti-competitive practices. The company is also being investigated for pursuing an unfair monopoly in relation to both its Android operating system and its AdSense advertising program.

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