Brussels .- The European Commission (EC) today imposed a penalty fee from 4,343 million euros to Google for using its operating system Android to reinforce the domain position of its search engine, the highest sanction for breaching the Competition rules never imposed by Brussels .
” Google have used Android as a vehicle to consolidate the domain of your search engine. These practices have denied their rivals the opportunity to innovate and compete on their merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition, “said European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
The Commission’s investigation, which began in April 2015 and took a year to accuse Google of abuse of dominance, has concluded that the restrictions that the US giant imposes on telephone manufacturers and network operators in relation to Android they are an illegal practice according to European standards.
Specific, Brussels alleges that Google required manufacturers to pre-install their search services ( Google Search) and its browser (Chrome) as a condition to grant them the license to use its application store (Play Store).
It also made certain payments to large manufacturers and operators of mobile networks provided that they installed exclusively their search engine, while preventing them from selling smartphones that had alternative versions of Android not approved by Google .
The objective was to direct the traffic of the devices Android to its search engine and thus reinforce its dominance position, in a context in which “mobile internet accounts for more than half of global traffic,” Vestager recalled.
Also in that Google dominates in the market of general services of search in Internet in the European Economic Area, and worldwide (except in China) in the licensing of operating systems for mobile phones and application stores for Android , with more than 90% market share in all of them.
The Commission’s decision requires the US giant “to end its illegal conduct effectively within 90 days” from the decision or, otherwise, will impose penalties of up to 5% of the daily turnover of its parent, Alphabet.
“As minimum Google must stop and not reoffend in any of these three types of practices (…) and also refrain from any measure that has a similar purpose or equivalent to these, “said the EC, which leaves it up to the company to decide what specific measures apply .
Google he has already announced that he will appeal the decision before the courts and defended that ” Android has created more choice for all, not less, “since it makes available” 24,000 devices, of all types of prices, from more than 1,300 different brands, with more than one million applications available “in its Play Store.
The penalty fee announced today adds to the penalty fee of 2,424 million euros that the Community Executive imposed on the US giant in June 2017 for abuse of dominion by favoring its shopping comparison service in its search engine, which until today was the highest penalty imposed by Brussels to a single company.
Vestager recalled that the penalty fee it is calculated according to the severity of the infraction and the company’s turnover and that, if it is higher, it is because it is “a very serious illegal behavior”, despite which it considered that “it is online” with those imposed by the EC for these practices.
The sanction may not be the last to the American company, since Brussels also investigates whether, with its AdSense advertising intermediation service, Google Service restricts the ability of third-party websites to display search ads from their competitors.
On the other hand, penalty fee is the latest in a series of community sanctions against American technology giants, such as Apple and Amazon, and comes in a context of tension between the United States and the EU on account of tariffs imposed by the Donald Trump government or its demands for greater contribution to NATO.
However, Vestager played down the possibility of retaliation by Washington towards European companies and said the United States “wants fair competition as much as the EU.”
“When we apply the Competition rules, we do not do it according to the political context because then, it would never be the right time,” he said, to defend that they will continue to do so.