Brussels: The EU ruled on Wednesday ruled against Google's appeal against a massive EU competition fine for squeezing rival shopping services on its search engine.
After years of investigation, the European Commission said the US tech giant had regularly given preferential treatment to its own shopping service and demoted rivals in search results.
The Commission handed Google a €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) fine in 2017. It was the first of three antitrust penalties, totaling more than €8 billion, that the EU's executive branch has handed Google in recent years.
Google complied with the decision and changed the way its shopping services worked but appealed the fine at the EU General Court. The company argued that the fine was "wrong on the law, the facts, and the economics."
The Commission began proceedings in the case in November 2010, following several complaints made by European and US competitors. The decision can still be appealed at the European Court of Justice, the bloc's highest court.
The ruling comes amid a slew of efforts to rein in major US tech companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. The companies, collectively dubbed GAFAM, have been accused of not dodging taxes, stigling competition, stealing media content and threatening democracy by spreading fake news.
In 2013, the EU fined Microsoft €561 million for imposing its search engine Internet Explorer on users of Windows 7. Meanwhile, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have also been the targets of EU probes for possible violations of competition rules, and EU courts have ruled to hike fines for tech firms that break competition rules.