EU Fines Google $5.1 Billion in Android Antitrust Case

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The European Union has fined Google a record $5.1 billion for abusing its power in the mobile phone market. The authorities further ordered the company to amend its practices and gave 90 days to implement the changes.

Last year, European authorities fined the tech giant with $2.7 billion for lowering the rankings of competitor shopping comparison tools to favour its own in the Internet search results.

The decision seems to be one of the most aggressive regulatory actions against the American tech giant and the one that may force lasting changes to the smartphones. The new fine imposed is almost double to what the authorities have fined Google last year. The size of the fine also reflects the EU’s strong stance against the power of US tech firms when most of the officials in the US have taken mostly a hands-off approach to most of the companies.

One more antitrust case against Google is still open in the EU which alleges that the search giant is holding dominance in the online advertising market with its AdSense tool. In addition to the fine imposed, the authorities also ordered remedies that are likely to make Google further loosen its grip on the Android software which is used in almost 80 percent of the smartphones in the world and which is the key part of Google’s business.

EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager quoted that Google made use of the dominant market position of Android to strengthen its lead in search and this practice is deemed as illegal in the EU. She tweeted that the $5.1 billion (€4.34 billion) was imposed based on 3 types of illegal restrictions with respect to the use of Android: Cementing its dominance in search using the Android’s dominance; not allowing a chance to the rivals to innovate and further complete based on the merit; and, the practice is deemed illegal under the EU’s antitrust rules.

Furthermore, Google has been specifically accused of forcing Android phone manufacturers to preinstall Chrome and Google Search as a prerequisite to include Play Store app. It also accused that Google has made some payments to leading phone manufacturers and mobile carriers to make sure that Google Search is the exclusive pre-installed app for search. It further stated that, despite Android being the open source software, Google prevented phone manufacturers from installing different versions of the Android that were not approved by Google.

Google has been given 90 days to cease from all such illegal activities and even notified that it will further face additional fine tuning to 5 percent of the global turnover of its parent company Alphabet.

However, Google CEO Sundar Pichai defended the company’s decision of bundling the apps with the operating system and stated that users were free to remove any apps that were pre-installed. He expressed concern over the EU’s decision and added the move will be a troubling signal favouring proprietary systems over open source platform. Google further stated that it plans to appeal the decision.