Google fined $6.8bn for 'illegal practices'

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 19 July 2018

Google has been fined $6.8billion by Europe’s competition watchdog for abusing its dominant Android mobile operating system, setting a global record for anti-trust penalties.

As a result, Google has been given 90 days to stop what the EU said were "illegal practices" on contracts with handset manufacturers that push Google services in front of users.

“Today, the commission rules Google has engaged in illegal practices to cement its dominant market position in internet search,” European Union’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The European Commission found Google had used Android, the most popular mobile software globally, to reinforce its dominance in search.

According to the European Commission Google:

  • Forced phone makers to pre-install its Chrome browser and its Search app as a condition for accessing the Play app store
  • Illegally paid manufacturers to pre-install its Search app exclusively, protecting its search business from competition
  • Prevented Android phone makers from selling devices that run “forked” versions of the operating system.

Google said it would appeal the decision.

The news follows a legal stoush between Sydney startup Unlockd and Google. Unlockd is fighting for a permanent injunction against its ­threatened ejection from the Google app store.

Matt Berriman, the founder of Unlockd, took to Twitter to comment on the fine issued to Google, saying: "Google may create choice, of which then you monopolistically control without regulation or independence. Unlockd Media looks forward to our time in court in EU, USA and AU to show the world exactly how your “choice” works in reality vs your press controlled statements!"

Google Europe CEO Sundar Pichai posted a blog defending the tech company's position, saying the ruling ignores the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones.

"It also misses just how much choice Android provides to thousands of phone makers and mobile network operators who build and sell Android devices; to millions of app developers around the world who have built their businesses with Android; and billions of consumers who can now afford and use cutting-edge Android smartphones," he said in the blog, which you can read here.

This isn't the first time Google has been fined for its practices, also fined €2.4 billion last year for promoting its own shopping service in search.

A third investigation is also underway over whether Google’s AdSense technology protects its dominant position in online advertising.

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