Google commences appeal against European Commission €4.34 billion fine

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Google on Monday commenced its appeal against the €4.34 billion fine it received from the European Commission for allegedly forcing Android device makers and network operators to preinstall Google Search and Chrome to cement its dominant position in general internet search.

Three years on, the €4.34 billion fine continues to be the European Commission’s largest ever antitrust fine.

When the fine was first handed down, European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager found Google imposed three types of restrictions onto Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure traffic on Android devices went to Google’s search engine.

The European Commission found that Google: Required manufacturers to preinstall the Google Search app and Chrome as a condition for licensing Google’s app store — the Play Store; made payments to some large manufacturers and mobile network operators on the condition that they exclusively preinstall the Google Search app on their devices, and prevented manufacturers from preinstalling Google apps onto devices that ran on Android forks, alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google.

The appeal [PDF], which will run until Friday, will seek to overturn the fine on the grounds that the Commission erred in its assessment of Google’s place in the smartphone market, with Google arguing Android and the Play Store are not too dominant.

Google has also contended that it has not abused its dominant market position in general search services to force companies into preinstalling Google’s apps.

Since 2017, the Commission has issued over €8 billion worth of fines to Google for alleged anti-competitive behaviour. Aside from the €4.34 billion fine, the Commission in 2017 fined Google €2.42 billion for abusing its dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to Google’s own comparison shopping service; it then fined Google almost €1.5 billion for allegedly imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites which stopped Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites.

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