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Why the EU Just Ordered Google to Pay a $5B Fine

Orders it to stop illegal practices regarding Android devices
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2018 7:41 AM CDT
This Wednesday, April 26, 2017 file photo shows a Google icon on a mobile phone, in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
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(Newser) – "We want Google to end its illegal behavior," says EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, per the Guardian, and the regulator hopes a record $5.06 billion fine will compel it to do so. Described by the Wall Street Journal as the EU's "sharpest rebuke yet" to the power wielded by the upper echelon of tech companies, the bloc on Wednesday imposed the fine and ordered Google to stop pushing its apps in a way that stymies competitors. It has 90 days to comply or parent company Alphabet could be hit with additional fines of up to 5% of its average daily turnover. Google says it will appeal. The Journal explains that all but about 20% of all smartphones run on the Android operating system, and the allegation was that Google used that dominance as leverage to push its own apps.

The Verge outlines the three alleged practices the regulator viewed as illegal and detrimental to competitors, two of which are allegedly still active: that Google stipulated that Android device manufacturers could only incorporate access to Google's Play store if it shipped those devices with the Google Search app and Chrome browser pre-installed, and that it barred manufacturers from using "forked" versions of Android. Bloomberg offers a very clear primer on the issue, starting with how Android became so dominant in the first place and recapping the record fine the EU hit Google with last year. The BBC notes paying the fine wouldn't be a massive blow to Alphabet should it have to pay it; its cash holdings at the end of Q1 were a hair over $100 billion. (Read more Google stories.)

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