Google Faces Hefty Fine In EU For Violating Antitrust Regulations To Push Android Over Rivals


European Union antitrust regulators are threatening to fine Alphabet's Google if it doesn't stop violating antitrust regulations.

More specifically, the EU wants Google to stop paying smartphone makers to put Google Search exclusively on their devices. Should Google continue with such practices, the EU could slap the company with hefty fines.

Antitrust regulators reportedly sent a 150-page document to complainants last week, seeking feedback. In the copy sent to Google back in April, the European Commission argued that the company is taking advantage of its dominant position on the mobile market with its Android OS to trump rivals.

In a charge sheet called "statement of objections," the EU competition enforcer revealed plans to order Google to stop offering payments or discounts to mobile phone makers in exchange for preinstalling the Google Play Store with Google Search.

At the same time, the regulators are also looking to ensure the company doesn't force smartphone makers to preinstall proprietary Google apps if it limits their ability to use rival OSs based on Android.

Regulators also point out that Google can't "punish or threaten" phone makers if they don't comply with its conditions, Reuters reports.

Google, however, is not at its first antitrust rodeo in Europe. The EU slapped Google with a third round of antitrust charges back in July, similarly arguing that Google is denying rivals the chance to compete and innovate.

If it doesn't change its ways soon, Google could face a steep fine because its anti-competitive practices are long-standing, stretching from January 2011 to the present day.

"The Commission intends to set the fine at a level which will be sufficient to ensure deterrence," said the EC, as cited by Reuters.

The fine could be calculated based on revenue Google made from AdWords clicks by users in Europe, as well as Play Store app purchases, Google Search product searches and AdMob in-app advertisements.

Google, for its part, keeps defending its practices and says it's not unfairly eliminating competition by exploiting its dominant position. The company says it plans to prove to the EC that the Android model it designed benefits both consumers and the competition, while also supporting innovation across the region.

Reuters has also seen another charge sheet in which the Commission charged Google with playing favorites, pushing its Android OS ahead of rival operating systems, and this case could also draw a separate fine.

It remains to be seen how things will pan out in the end, but Google's antitrust woes in the EU seem far from over. As always, we'll keep you up to date as soon as we have more information.

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