Google may have to pay a record €4.125 billion ($4.12 billion) fine to the European Union in an antitrust case linked to its Android operating system for smartphones after losing a court appeal on Wednesday, a ruling that is likely to bolster the bloc’s ability to crackdown on big tech companies.
The European Court of Justice’s General Court ruled to uphold the EU executive commission’s 2018 decision to penalize Google, only slightly reducing the fine from €4.34 billion to €4.125 billion as its reasoning differed “in certain respects” to the commission’s.
The court’s ruling states Google “imposed unlawful restrictions” on makers of Android smartphones “in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine.”
The court’s ruling largely aligns with the European Commission’s 2018 ruling that tech giant forced Android device manufacturers to agree to preinstall Google Search, Google Play Store and not use unlicensed versions of the operating system developed by third parties.
The €4.125 billion fine is part of a wider set of antitrust penalties—adding up to more than €8 billion—that Google faces in Europe, including a €2.42 billion fine for favoring its own shopping services on its search engine and a €1.49 billion fine for abusing its dominance in online advertising.
Google can still move this appeal to the EU’s Court of Justice, the bloc’s top court, but it’s unclear if that will happen.
Forbes has reached out to Google for a comment on the court’s ruling.
Wednesday’s ruling is likely to embolden the European Commission to expand its crackdown on the dominance of U.S. tech giants including Amazon, Apple and Meta. The commission is currently investigatingApple’s 30% App Store commission and its alleged abuse of its dominance in the music streaming space. The commission is also investigating potential antitrust abuse by Google and Meta in the online advertising business and Amazon’s e-commerce business practices. Earlier this year, the European Parliament voted in favor of two sets of sweeping rulesdesigned to target the dominance of big tech companies—the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act.
Google loses appeal against record EU antitrust fine (Financial Times)
By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff