European Commission

Google appeals 4.34 billion euro fine for Android Antitrust Violations

Google has appealed the biggest ever anti-trust fine by the European Commission, which imposed a 4.34 billion euro penalty on the company for illegally abusing the dominance of its Android operating system.

Back in July, the European Commission fined Google 4.34 billion euro (£3.9bn / $5bn) following an antitrust investigation into Google’s Android mobile operating system. The probe, led by the European Union’s antitrust czar Margrethe Vestager, looked into accusations that Google has used its dominance in the mobile marketplace to its advantage. The fine eclipsed the previous European Commission record penalty of $2.7 billion, also issued to Google.

The case against Google

The EU first took interest in Google’s alleged abuse of Android back in 2016, when the Commission first informed Google that it may be in violation of antitrust rules with its massively popular mobile operating system. According to the initial charges, Google is accused of requiring phone manufacturers to install the company’s Chrome web browser and its search tool on their devices. Google allegedly offered financial incentives to place its apps on phones, but also threatened to cut off access to the Google Play Store if companies didn’t comply.

Google also allegedly prevented phone makers from creating devices that run on modified or forked versions of Android by requiring the companies to enter into an “Anti-Fragmentation agreement.” Companies were only allowed access to Google’s proprietary apps, including the Google Play Store, if the entered into the arrangement, according to the European Commission.

Ms Vestager alleges that there are three ways that Google has acted illegally:

  • it required Android handset and tablet manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and its own web browser Chrome as a condition for allowing them to offer access to its Play app store
  • it made payments to large manufacturers and mobile network operators that agreed to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices
  • it prevented manufacturers from selling any smart devices powered by alternative “forked” versions of Android by threatening to refuse them permission to pre-install its apps

Ms Vestager acknowledged that Google’s version of Android does not prevent device owners downloading alternative web browsers or using other search engines.

 

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