Thursday, 15 September 2022 07:34

EU gives Google little relief in verdict on record fine appeal Featured

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EU gives Google little relief in verdict on record fine appeal Image by Chickenonline from Pixabay

Google has gained very little from a bid to try and get a €4.34 billion (US$4.33 billion, A$6.42 billion) fine imposed by the EU withdrawn, with judges at a tribunal largely confirming the bloc's decision to impose the fine.

The fine was imposed in July 2018, with the EU accusing Google of breaching anti-trust rules relevant to Android. The company appealed the imposition of the penalty to the EU General Court.

The Luxembourg-based tribunal said on Wednesday: "The General Court largely confirms the commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices and mobile network operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine.”

It cut the penalty to €4.1 billion on the grounds that there were some faults in the EU regulator's analysis and because it agreed that Google's right to fair trial had been infringed to some extent. Details of the court's arguments are here.

EU anti-trust chief Margrethe Vestager was quoted by Reuters as saying: "This, of course, is really good. Now, we have the second Google judgment and for us, it is really important as it backs our enforcement efforts."

If Google wishes, it can now appeal this decision to the EU’s Court of Justice.

In a detailed statement at the time the fine was imposed, the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, said Google:

  • had required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google's app store (the Play Store);
  • made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and
  • had prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google (so-called "Android forks").

google android

A graphic issued by the EU at the time the fine was imposed to explain why it was done.

Contacted for its take on the tribunal's decision, a Google spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that the Court did not annul the decision in full. Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world.”

Apart from this fine, Google faces a €2.4 billion penalty levied by the EU in 2017 for allegedly abusing its search engine dominance to give illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service. The company has appealed the decision.

It also faces a third fine of €1.49 billion for alleged abusive practices in online advertising.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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