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EU Mulls Another Record Fine Against Google For Android

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Double whammy. EU ponders a second record fine against Google, but this time over Android OS

EU antitrust regulators are said to considering a second record fine against Google, but this time over its Android operating system.

Google has been facing antitrust charges in Europe over Android, ever since rivals including FairSearch, Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle filed their initial complaints back in 2013.

It should be remembered that Google has already been slapped with a record-breaking fine of 2.4 billion euros (£2.1bn) last month by the European Commission for abusing its monopoly on Internet searches within the European Union.

AndroidArmyAndroid Charges

Last October EU antitrust regulators ordered Google to stop paying Android handset makers to install Google search and software on their devices, and warned the search giant of a potentially large fine

That came after the EC formally issued an antitrust complaint in April 2016, against what it perceived to be Google’s abuse of the dominance of the Android mobile operating system.

Specifically, the European Commission has been unhappy that Google has been providing payments and discounts to manufacturers in exchange for pre-installing Google Play Store along with Google Search.

The Commission has also wanted Google to stop forcing manufacturers to pre-install proprietary Google applications such as Google Chrome etc, if it restricts their ability to use competing Android-based operating systems.

And now because Google has apparently not changed its behaviours, the EC is considering issuing another record fine against the firm, according to Reuters.

The European regulators are said to have set up a panel of experts to give a second opinion on the case. If this second panel agrees with the initial case team’s conclusions, it could reportedly pave the way for the European Commission to issue a decision against Alphabet’s Google by the end of the year.

And the Android fine could be potentially much larger than the record 2.4 billion euros (£2.1bn) penalty against Google last month for search engine monopoly abuse, because of Android’s massive growth potential.

Reuters reported that both European Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso and Google declined to comment.

Tech Fines

Google is not the only firm at the moment to fall foul of European rules. Last August, the European Commission ordered the Irish government to recover up to €13 billion (£11.5bn) plus interest from Apple.

The EC alleged that Apple has been using Ireland as a tax haven, as its investigation concluded that Apple had been able to avoid taxation on almost all profits generated in the EU single market.

And this week it seems that the United States has decided to intervene in the case, which is being appealed in the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe’s second-highest court.

That said, it is not immediately clear what the US intervention is seeking to achieve (either to assist Apple’s appeal, or to get the money paid in the US instead).

Apple for its part  always maintained it has done nothing wrong or illegal and has blamed the global tax system.

Quiz: How well do you know Android?