The decision could mark EU’s biggest antitrust fine and most severe reprove to Silicon Valley
BRUSSELS – The EU aims to hit Google with an antitrust fine of not less than $5.06 billion today (July 18th), a decision that could have a big impact on Alphabet’s Inc. biggest growth engine: mobile phones.
The formal decision is scheduled to be taken during today’s meeting of EU commissioners after a presentation by competition Chief Margrethe Vestager. Officials also said that no discussion of the decision is expected.
It all started as the EU’s antitrust regulator began looking into whether Google had abused the dominance of its Android operating system, as it runs on more than 80% of smartphones worldwide, to promote its own mobile apps and, of course, services.
Google does have the right to appeal and has rejected the EU’s case. It further states that Android has increased competition among smartphone makers (as it’s free to use) and also lowered the prices for consumers. At the same time, it states that the accusations that it hindered the progress of competing apps is false due to the fact that manufactures usually install many rival apps on Android devices, while consumers have the freedom to download theirs.
If agreed upon, the fine would top the €2.4 billion antitrust fine that Google has received just over a year ago.
Ms. Vestager has become the image of the fight against privacy issues, taxes and competition regarding US tech superpowers and argues that regulators must do more in order to restore fairness to the digital market.