Wednesday, February 28

Google Gets a European Fine of Billions Only Slightly Reduced

Google has rightly been fined billions by the European Commission. The European court found that the American tech company was guilty of pushing away competitors on Android phones and other devices.

The fine will be slightly reduced, from EUR 4,340 million to EUR 4,125 million.

The European Commission fined Google in 2018 for agreements with telephone makers and telecom providers to favour its search engine. As a result, rivals of the near-monopolist did not stand a chance, the committee ruled. So the tech company went to the General Court of the European Union to challenge the fine, the highest ever in the EU.

Among other things, Google stipulated that phone manufacturers had to install its search engine and surfing software to use its essential app store. The internet company also got from manufacturers that they banned versions of Android other than Google itself. Google also let phone manufacturers and providers share in the revenue of searches, provided they did not install competing search engines.

The General Court of the EU essentially endorses the Commission’s decision but does not fully follow it on the latter point. The Luxembourg court ruled that a slightly lower fine is better suited to the seriousness and duration of the violation. Google and the Commission can still appeal.

Google also lost a case against another European billion-dollar fine last year, and another such lawsuit is pending. Since Brussels fined Google, the company has introduced a selection screen where users can choose from multiple search engines. But that doesn’t satisfy rivals.

Google says in response it is disappointed with the judge’s decision. “Android has provided more choice, not less, and it supports thousands of successful businesses worldwide.”

Google’s competitors, united in the FairSearch interest group, reacted enthusiastically. “Google can no longer impose its will on phone manufacturers,” writes the organization that filed the complaints about Android.

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