EU To Drop The Hammer On Google
By Cristiano Lima, POLITICO MORNING TECH
July 18, 2018
EU DROPS THE HAMMER ON GOOGLE — The European Union unveiled a $5 billion dollar fine against Google this morning, the latest salvo in an antitrust battle, POLITICO Europe’s Mark Scott, Simon Van Dorpe and Thibault Larger report. The penalty is the largest ever levied against a single company by the EU, exceeding the $2.8 billion fine on Google last year. The action, which charged Google with unfairly using its Android mobile operating system to maintain dominance in online search, could trigger a fierce legal battle and an appeal that reaches the EU’s highest court.
— An escalating standoff: “By slapping Google with a record fine, Vestager is building on a yearslong investigation by the Commission into the search giant’s place in the ever-evolving digital world,” Mark, Simon and Thibault report. “Europe’s competition czar has repeatedly claimed the investigations are not unfairly targeting U.S. tech firms, possibly to level the playing field for European rivals. But Vestager’s critics have been quick to focus on how the Danish politician has slapped several of Silicon Valley’s largest names with sizable fines despite European firms also feeling the brunt of her regulatory powers,” they write.
— Tech groups brace for impact: Ahead of today’s announcement, tech groups voiced concern over the effects on their industry. “The Commission should be wary of meddling with the mobile market,” cautioned Information Technology and Innovation Foundation vice president Daniel Castro. “The wrong choice would hurt competition, diminish quality and security, and leave consumers worse off.” Computer & Communications Industry Association president Ed Black told MT that Google has helped to increase competition, not hinder it. “Android has brought more competition, broader variety and innovation to the market,” Black said.
— A sharp contrast: Former FCC official and Georgetown Law fellow Gigi Sohn said the EU’s more aggressive maneuvers against Silicon Valley highlight inadequacies in the U.S. approach. “Clearly the EU is much more serious about antitrust enforcement in the tech industry than the U.S. is,” said Sohn, a top aide to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. John Simpson, director for the Privacy Project at Consumer Watchdog, told MT on Tuesday the expected penalty “benefits consumers around the world” — and that U.S. authorities should take note. “The U.S. Federal Trade Commission or Department of Justice should also act to end Google’s monopolistic abuses, instead of letting the Europeans be the only cop on the antitrust beat,” he said.