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Google Fined $6 Billion After Appeal Loss

Google has been unsuccessful in its appeal to dodge a record A$5.98 billion fine for using Android to unfairly maintain its search engine dominance.

The €4.125 fine is largest anti-trust fine ever given by the European Commission, and was handed down in 2018, after three years of investigations by the EU.

It says Google breached anti-competition laws by strongarming Android phone developers into pre-installing its search and browser apps in order to also include the Google Play Store.

“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” Google said in a statement, adding it was “disappointed” by the ruling.

The European General Court did slightly reduce the original 2018 fine, but held its original ruling.

“The General Court largely confirms the Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices and mobile network in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine,” it said.

The European Consumer Organisation, which represents consumer groups across the EU, welcomed the ruling.

Monique Goyens, director general, of European Consumer Organisation, which represents consumer groups across the EU, said the decision to uphold the fine “confirms that Europe’s consumers must enjoy meaningful choice between search engines and browsers on their phones and tablets” and that Google removed “genuine choice” from the equation.

“If [users] preferred, for example, to use more innovative and privacy-friendly services, Google’s restrictions prevented them from doing so.”

Google has since changed its terms.

This ruling doesn’t bode well for Google, who is currently facing an antitrust lawsuit in the US.

The US Justice Department is claiming that the company now, instead of enforcing the aforementioned tactics, is instead paying out billions of dollars a year to Apple, Samsung, and other leading tech companies to illegally maintain its search engine dominance on these devices.

“Google invests billions in defaults, knowing people won’t change them,” DOJ attorney Kenneth Dintzer told Judge Amit Mehta earlier this week in a Washington hearing. “They are buying default exclusivity because defaults matter a lot.”

Dintzer says Google pays “enormous numbers” to each of these companies to appear as the default search engine on their various devices.

“Default exclusivity allows Google to systemically deny rivals’ data,” he said.

Google argues that such deals had been in place for two decades, and are vital in funding non-profit tech companies such as Mozilla, creators of popular browser Firefox.

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