Google is a huge company with a ton of power, and in recent years, it’s paid for its dominance in the market. Now, France is handing Google a $166 million fine over abusing its dominance in the online ad market.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that France fined Google €150 million over its online ad policies. Specifically, the methods Google used were “difficult to understand.” Google was ordered to clarify the rules for Google Ads as well.

This case was first triggered by a complaint from Gibmedia after Google suspended its ad account in 2015. The case further cites other examples of wrongly terminated accounts from Google as part of the cause for the fine. AP further explains:

The agency said the US tech company mistreated buyers of ads based on keywords. Methods used by its Google Ads platform are ‘opaque and difficult to understand’ and the company applies them in an ‘unequal and arbitrary way,’ it said.

It also ordered Google to clarify the rules for Google Ads and its procedures for freezing accounts, to avoid ‘brutal and unjustified’ suspensions…

While it says Google’s argument that it’s protecting consumers is ‘perfectly legitimate,’ its rules are applied incoherently, with some companies’ ads allowed and others that sell similar services suspended, the authority said.

It accused the company of ‘at best negligence, at worst opportunism’ by initially offering services to advertisers that it considers dubious and later suspends, just to grow profits.

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Ben Schoon

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