Global efforts to rein in the power of the world’s largest tech companies scored a significant legal victory on Wednesday when a European Union court gave its blessing to a record multibillion-dollar fine against Google in 2018.
The decision, by the General Court of Luxembourg, provides new impetus for European regulators who have investigated companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple over anticompetitive business practices. The A fine of 4.34 billion euros (worth $5.1 billion in 2018) was the largest amount ever delivered by the European Competition Authority. On Wednesday, the court agreed that Google had violated antitrust laws by using its Android smartphone technology and market dominance to boost its search engine leadership.
A legal defeat would have damaged the EU’s reputation as one of the world’s most aggressive regulators in the tech industry, just as the bloc promised to clamp down on big tech companies. Antitrust regulators in Brussels, led by Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission in charge of digital and competition policy, are carrying out other ongoing investigations against Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta. And this year, European Union policymakers passed laws related to Competition And the Editing Internet Content That gives regulators more power to target the tech industry.
Google said it was disappointed in the decisionBut it did not say whether it would appeal to the European Court of Justice, the bloc’s highest court. “Android has created more choices for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” the company said in a statement.
The Android case remains one of the world’s toughest regulatory action ever against a technology company. In a 2018 ruling, it was revealed that Google had illegally used Android to secure its search engine dominance. Regulators said the company has struck deals that require Android-based smartphone makers, such as Samsung and Huawei, to make Google the default search engine, beating smaller competitors like DuckDuckGo and Bing. Google now offers European Android device users a screen to choose from among the various search engines.
Victory was not guaranteed for European regulators, who had lost previous appeals of sanctions, including against semiconductor companies Intel and Qualcomm. On Wednesday, the court sided almost entirely with the regulators, although it lowered the fine slightly, to 4.125 billion euros ($4.13 billion at current exchange rates), due to calculations related to revenue-sharing agreements Google has with phone and network manufacturers. staff.