It’s mounting troubles for global tech major Google. The US Big Tech is reported to have lost an appeal against a billion dollar EU antitrust fine.
The European Union’s second-highest court overwhelmingly upheld the EU’s record fine against Google over its Android operating system for mobile phones, slightly reducing the fee for technical reasons.
In a statement, the EU’s General court said it “largely confirms the commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices” in order to benefit its search engine.
The court, however, said the fine should be slightly reduced to 4.125 billion euros ($4.1 billion), instead of the 4.3 billion euros decided by the commission in 2018 after reviewing the duration of the infringement.
The levy remains the EU’s biggest ever despite Google’s arguments that the commission’s case was unfounded and falsely relied on accusations it imposed its search engine and Chrome browser on Android phones.
The company also pushed the case that the EU was unfairly blind to the strength of Apple, which imposes or gives clear preference to its own services such as Safari on iPhones.
Google insisted that downloading rival apps was only a click away and that customers were in no way tied to Google products on Android.
The EU and complainants responded that Google used contracts with phone makers in the early days of Android to stifle rivals.
The decision by the General Court is not necessarily the end of the story.
Both sides can turn to the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, for a final say on the fine, which was the equivalent of $5 billion when levied.
Last year, South Korea fined Google nearly $180 million for abusing its dominance in a similar case. The new EU law, set to come into force next year, would set up a rulebook of do’s and don’ts for Big Tech companies such as Google and Facebook.
The DMA includes specific bans or limits on Google, Apple and other gatekeepers from promoting their own services on platforms.