IN A MAJOR win for EU competition regulators, the record fine against Google over Android phones was upheld this morning.
The European General Court said it “largely confirms” the ruling made by the European Commission in 2018 that said the tech giant had breached laws by forcing Android phone-makers to carry its search and web browser apps in order to access the Google Play Store in 2018.
Although the EU court reduced the initial €4.3bn (£3.7bn) fine to €4.1bn, it remains the largest anti-trust fine ever handed down by the Commission. The court ruled that the new sum was decided “in order better to reflect the gravity and duration of the infringement”.
Google said it was “disappointed” by the decision. “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” it said in a statement. Google still has the option to appeal matters of law to the EU Court of Justice, the highest court.
Senior Counsel at international law firm Charles Russell Speechlys Paul Stone told City A.M. that this morning’s decision was a “symbolic victory” and will come as a relief to the commission given its other ongoing investigations into Google.
EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager has been on a quest to stamp out Big Tech domination across the bloc, but has a number faced setbacks in recent months.
Just this year, Europe’s second-highest court annulled the commission’s decision to fine US chipmaker Qualcomm €997m (£862m), while Intel won its own European appeal against a hefty €1bn fine handed to the company 12 years ago.
The European Consumer Organisation welcomed yesterday’s ruling, stating that it confirmed that consumers “must enjoy meaningful choice” when using their phones.