Google begins courtroom battle with EU in bid to quash record $5 billion fine over Android dominance

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Google begins courtroom battle with EU in bid to quash record $5 billion fine over Android dominance
Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner. Reuters
  • Google has begun a five-day court battle with the EU over a $5 billion fine issued in 2018.
  • Lawmakers say Google used Android's dominance to push its own apps and services.
  • The company is facing mounting antitrust pressure in both the EU and the US.

Google has entered a five-day court battle with the European Union, as the tech giant seeks to overturn a $5 billion antitrust fine issued by the bloc in 2018.

The EU fined the tech giant over allegations of anti-competitive behavior - involving shopping, Android, and search advertising - three times in as many years: first for $2.7 billion in 2017, again for $5 billion in 2018, and once more for $1.7 billion in 2019.

In the second case, European competition authorities accused Google of abusing its dominant Android mobile operating system to cement the popularity of its own apps and services.

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The bloc said Google had forced phone makers to preinstall its Chrome browser and its Search app as a condition for accessing the Play App Store.

Lawmakers also accused the company of illegally paying manufacturers to preinstall its Search app exclusively, protecting its search business from competition, and preventing Android phone makers from selling devices that run "forked" versions of the operating system. Google has repeatedly denied the commission's findings.

The company's lawyers will be seeking to overturn the bloc's record $5 billion levy this week at the EU's General Court in Luxembourg. The court is used to hear cases against the institutions of the EU.

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"Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world," a Google spokesman said. "This case isn't supported by the facts or the law."

In a 2018 blog post reacting to the $5 billion fine, Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued that the current Android system had "created more choice, not less" through its business practices, and that the EU's decision risked upsetting "the careful balance that we have struck with Android."

"Today's decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less," Pichai wrote at the time.

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Google faces mounting antitrust pressure on either side of the Atlantic, with attorney generals from 36 US states, and Washington DC, recently lodging a complaint over the firm's control of the Android app store.

Insider approached the European Commission for comment.

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