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Google Begins Appeal Of $5 Billion Fine, Disputes Allegations It’s A Monopoly

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Ailan Evans Tech Reporter
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Google began its appeal Monday of a $5 billion fine levied by a European regulator over alleged market abuses.

The European Commission slapped the tech giant with the fine in 2018 for a number of alleged anticompetitive practices, including forcing smartphone makers to pre-install the Google Chrome browser to be able to install the Google Play Store, and imposing restrictions discouraging smartphone makers from manufacturing devices that run unofficial versions of the Android operating system. The commission alleged Google used these requirements to keep out competitors and maintain its monopoly position in Android distribution.

Google contested the case Monday before the General Court in Luxembourg, attempting to demonstrate its conduct was not anticompetitive as its Android operating system competed with Apple’s iOS, Reuters reported.

“By defining markets too narrowly and downplaying the potent constraint imposed by the highly powerful Apple, the Commission has mistakenly found Google to be dominant in mobile operating systems and app stores, when it was in fact a vigorous market disrupter,” Google attorney Meredith Pickford said before the court, Reuters reported.

European Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager gives a press conference on an anti-trust case with Amazon. (Photo by OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager gives a press conference on an anti-trust case with Amazon. (Photo by OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The tech giant argued its agreements with phone manufacturers requiring the pre-installation of Google Chrome was fair, as it was a way for the company to recoup the money it spent developing the Android operating system, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The European Commission disagreed, instead arguing Google’s requirement that phone makers pre-install Google Chrome to be able to install the Google Play Store was designed to thwart competition by hamstringing competing app stores. (RELATED: Apple, Google Delete Putin Critic’s App As Russian Parliamentary Voting Begins)

“Bringing Apple into the picture doesn’t change things very much. Google and Apple pursue different models,” European Commission attorney Nicholas Khan argued before the court, according to Reuters. “Google’s conduct denied any opportunity for competition.”

The hearing will last five days, and the decision may be appealed to the European Court of Justice, which previously sided against Google in a 2014 case over the right of EU citizens to request the tech giant de-index links containing private information. However, the court sided with Google in 2019 over whether those rights extended globally.

Google has also run afoul of EU regulators for its digital advertising policies, and was hit with a $590 million fine in July for not complying with EU regulations requiring the tech giant pay publishers for certain content it displays in search results.

Google and the European Commission did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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