A record fine against Google confirmed by the General Court of the European Union

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A record fine against Google confirmed by the General Court of the European Union

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">The record fine was first imposed in 2018 and was upheld on Wednesday.

European justice has inflicted a stinging setback on the American Internet giant Google by confirming on Wednesday a record fine imposed in 2018 by Brussels for abuse of a dominant position of its Android operating system.

The action brought by Google is essentially dismissed, announced the General Court of the European Union (EU), based in Luxembourg. However, he deemed it appropriate to reduce the amount of the sanction from 4.3 to 4.1 billion euros ($5.7 to 5.3 billion) in order to better reflect the seriousness and duration of the the offense, he explained in a statement

Even reduced, this fine remains the highest ever imposed by the European Commission, which monitors the proper functioning of competition rules within the single market.

This decision is a judgment rendered in first instance and Google could appeal within two months.

We are disappointed that the court did not reverse the decision in its entirety. Android has created more choice for everyone […] and supports thousands of companies in Europe and around the world, reacted Google, which contests any anti-competitive practice.

The group did not immediately say whether it was considering an appeal to the Court of Justice of the EU, Europe's highest court.

Brussels accuses Google of forcing manufacturers of phones and tablets using its operating system to pre-install its search engine and Chrome browser to eliminate competition. He allegedly abused the power of his Android system, which is used on 80% of mobile devices worldwide.

The EU court confirmed that Google had indeed imposed illegal restrictions […] in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine.

The group from Mountain View, California, however, believes that the EU has wrongly ignored competitor Apple, which favors its own services on its iPhones, such as the Safari browser. The Commission has turned a blind eye to the real competitive dynamics of this sector, that which opposes Apple and Android, explained the lawyer for the group, during a hearing last year.

Google had also argued that the download of competing applications was accessible with a single click and that customers were in no way forced to use its products on Android.

Wednesday's judgment is a victory for the Commission […]. Google can no longer impose its will on phone manufacturers, said Thomas Vinje, lawyer for FairSearch, an organization bringing together competitors who had initiated the case with a complaint in 2013.

The case is one of three major disputes opened by Brussels against Google, whose practices are also contested in the United States and Asia.

The Commission imposed in 2017 a fine of 2.4 billion euros ($3.2 billion) to the technology giant for anti-competitive practices in the online price comparison market. This fine was confirmed in January by the General Court of the EU. Google then announced that it was appealing.

In 2019, the European executive had still claimed 1.5 billion euros (nearly $2 billion) from Google for infringements of competition attributed to its AdSense advertising agency.

On the other hand, European justice had canceled in June a fine of nearly one billion euros ($1.3 billion) against the mobile telephony equipment manufacturer Qualcomm, after having already canceled a 1.06 billion euro ($1.4 billion) fine against chipmaker Intel in January.

Frustrated by lengthy litigation against giants digital sector, the EU has designed new legislation to curb the abuse of dominant position by Silicon Valley giants.

The regulation of digital markets (Digital Markets Act, DMA ), which is due to come into force next year, will impose a series of upstream obligations and prohibitions on groups such as Google, Apple, Meta (Faceb ok) and Amazon. It aims to act before abusive behavior has destroyed the competition.

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