The French antitrust authority has fined Google €150 million for applying opaque and difficult to understand rules in an inconsistent manner.

The Autorité de la Concurrence is now pressing the internet giant to clarify the rules and working of Google Ads, as well as the accounts suspension procedure. Google has said it will appeal the decision in the country where it has faced regular criticism and fire.

“The way the rules are applied give Google a power of life or death over some small businesses that live only on this kind of service,” said Isabelle de Silva, President of the watchdog.

While Google has a significant market share position in the country, in the region of 90%, it seems there is not much the search giant can take away from this decision aside from wide-sweeping changes.

Not only are the rules being challenged in terms of the complexity and accessibility, but the operations of the company are also being heavily criticised. Strict and complex rules are not necessarily a bad thing, assuming they are applied in a consistent and predictable manner. This does not seem to be the case here, which will perhaps be the most frustrating area for French businesses who just want to make money.

Although this is news today, what should be noted is that the investigation was launched four years ago. Gibmedia, a company which operates a range of websites including weather forecasts, challenged the rules after Google suspended its account immediately and without explanation. This might be seen as a win for Gibmedia, though the fact it took four years for French authorities to come this conclusion is nothing short of embarrassing.


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