EU hits Google with second antitrust charge

Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:38pm EDT
 
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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union charged Google on Wednesday with using its dominant Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals, opening a second front against the U.S. technology giant that could result in large fines.

EU antitrust regulators said that by requiring mobile phone manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and the Google Chrome browser to get access to other Google apps, the U.S. company was harming consumers by stifling competition.

The EU's move is the latest in a series of anti-trust challenges Google has faced in both the EU and countries including India, Brazil and Russia. U.S. regulators closed their most recent investigation of the company in 2013 without taking action.

The European Commission said Google's Android licensing practices, which started in 2011 when the company became dominant in mobile operating systems and app stores, showed Google was seeking to shield its search engine, the world's most popular, from competition.

Google is already facing EU charges over the promotion of its shopping service in Internet searches at the expense of rival services in a case that has dragged on since late 2010 despite three attempts to resolve the issues.

The stakes are higher for Google in the Android case as it made about $11 billion last year from advertising sales on Android phones through its apps such as Maps, Search and Gmail, according to estimates by financial analyst Richard Windsor.

"A competitive mobile Internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

"We believe that Google's behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players," she said.   Continued...

 
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager addresses a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir