Home Technology Regulation Google may face another record EU fine: report

Google may face another record EU fine: report

The EU is contemplating another record fine against Google over how it pays and limits mobile phone providers who use the search company's Android mobile operating system and app store.

Reuters reported that a decision could be expected by the end of the year if the opinion of a team of experts, set up by the EU to obtain a second opinion, agree with the decisions reached by the team that has worked on the case.

Last month, the EU hit Google with a fine of €2.42 billion (US$2.7 billion, A$3.64 billion) for allegedly abusing its search engine dominance to give illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service.

The fine over Android is expected to exceed the fine imposed last month.

The report quoted Richard Windsor, an independent financial analyst, as saying that the Android fine was likely to hurt Google more than the search fine or the verdict in a third EU probe over AdSense.

"If Google was forced to unbundle Google Play from its other Digital Life services, handset makers and operators would be free to set whatever they like by default potentially triggering a decline in the usage of Google's services," he said.

In the chargesheet, issued on 20 April 2016, the European Commission said Google had breached EU anti-trust rules by:

  • requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;
  • preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code; and
  • giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.

At the time the EC said: "The Commission believes that these business practices may lead to a further consolidation of the dominant position of Google Search in general Internet search services.

"It is also concerned that these practices affect the ability of competing mobile browsers to compete with Google Chrome, and that they hinder the development of operating systems based on the Android open source code and the opportunities they would offer for the development of new apps and services."

The Reuters report said the EU had decided to set up the peer review panel last month.

It said such panels usually comprised three to four people who examined the EU's decision to ensure that it held up in the face of existing evidence.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.