“BRUSSELS — European authorities increased their efforts to rein in Silicon Valley Wednesday by fining Google a record $5.1 billion for abusing its power in the mobile phone market, a steep antitrust penalty that is among the most aggressive regulatory moves ever made against American technology companies.
The 4.34 billion euro fine far surpassed the €2.4 billion, about $2.8 billion, the European Union levied against Google last year over the company’s unfair favoring of its own services in internet search results. The new penalty highlighted how aggressively European authorities are pushing to regulate tech firms in areas like antitrust, privacy, taxes and the spread of misinformation and hate speech.
The ruling strikes at a core element of Google’s hugely profitable business model: providing phone makers such as Samsung and Huawei its Android operating system if they agree to prioritize its search bar, Chrome browser and other apps over those of the company’s rivals.
In addition to being hit with the hefty fine, Google must now decouple the Android system from its other services in Europe, potentially losing users and advertising revenue.
“Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine,” said Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s antitrust chief. “These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under E.U. antitrust rules.”
The fine announced on Wednesday, she said, “reflects the seriousness and the sustained nature” of Google’s actions.
Regulators in Europe have already adopted tough new privacy rules that countries elsewhere are beginning to use as a template. Officials here have also investigated tech companies’ tax practices, called for closer scrutiny of artificial intelligence and added strict measures requiring social media companies to more forcefully combat false news and extremist content.
Under the decision announced Wednesday, Google has 90 days to end its anticompetitive practices. If it fails to do, it faces penalties of up to 5 percent of the worldwide average daily revenue of its parent company, Alphabet.
Google said it would appeal the decision, and the case is likely to drag on for years. The company must deposit the money in a holding account while the legal process unfolds. If it ultimately loses the appeal, the fine will be distributed among the European Union’s member states.”
Ny Times. 18 July 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/technology/