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Google dismisses appeal against record $4 billion EU fine

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Google (GOOGL) suffered one of its biggest setbacks on Wednesday, when the European Supreme Court fined it €4.125 billion ($4.13 billion) for using its Android mobile operating system to block competitors. and provided a precedent for other regulators to step up pressure.

A unit of US tech giant Alphabet had challenged an earlier ruling, but Wednesday’s ruling was widely upheld by Europe’s second-highest court, with a fine of 4.34 billion euros (4.34 billion euros). dollar) has been slightly reduced.

A record fine for an antitrust violation. The European Commission has fined the world’s most popular internet search engine a total of €8.25 billion for antitrust violations in his three investigations over a decade.

This is the second loss for Google, which lost a challenge to a €2.42 billion ($2.42 billion) fine last year, and the first of three lawsuits.

“The General Court has generally confirmed the Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators in order to strengthen its search engine dominance,” the Court said. says.

“However, in order to better reflect the severity and duration of the infringement, the General Court considers it appropriate to impose a fine of 4,125 million euros on Google. It is different from the reason for the meeting,” the judge said.

Google, which can appeal legal issues to the Supreme Court of Europe, the European Court of Justice, voiced its disappointment.

“We are disappointed that the court did not completely overturn the decision. Android offers choice for everyone and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” the spokesperson said. said the rep.

The ruling is a boost for EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager after setbacks earlier this year in lawsuits involving other tech giants such as Intel (INTC) and Qualcomm (QCOM).

Vestager has characterized a crackdown on big tech in her work, a move that encourages regulators in the US and elsewhere to follow suit.

She is currently investigating Google’s digital advertising business, Jedi Blue advertising agreements with Meta, Apple’s (AAPL) App Store rules, Meta’s market and data use, and Amazon’s (AMZN) online sales and market practices. .

The court agreed with the commission’s assessment that iPhone maker Apple cannot act as a competitive constraint on Android because it does not belong to the same market.

The court’s uphold could strengthen EU antitrust oversight bodies in their investigation into Apple’s business practices in the music-streaming market that regulators claim the company dominates.

FairSearch, whose 2013 appeal triggered an EU lawsuit, said the ruling further strengthens Vestager’s groundbreaking technology rule aimed at curbing US tech giants, which will take effect next year. said to do.

“This victory will encourage the commission to implement the Digital Markets Act, a new regulation that reigns supreme in big tech,” said its attorney Thomas Bignier.

In its 2018 decision, the commission said Google used Android to cement its dominance in general Internet search through payments and restrictions to major manufacturers and mobile network operators.

Google acted like countless other companies, saying such payments and contracts would help keep Android a free operating system, while the EU decision was a move to the economic realities of mobile software platforms. He criticized them for not keeping pace.