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EU brings charges against Google on antitrust laws breach amid similar probes in Russia

April 20, 19:29 UTC+3 BRUSSELS
Google abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators
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© AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File

BRUSSELS, April 20. /TASS/. The European Union authorities sent a formal statement of objections to Google in respect of violating antitrust laws, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday. The EU investigation is underway while the Russian antimonopoly regulator is leading a somewhat similar probe.

Google abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators, the European Commission (EC) said. The company has implemented a strategy on mobile devices to preserve and strengthen its dominance in general internet search, the EC added.

"Google's behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players," Vestager said.

Google has breached EU antitrust rules by requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps, preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code, and giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices, the EC said in its statement of objectives.

In its turn, in March 2016, the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) initiated administrative proceedings against Google to determine the amount of fine under part 2 article 14.31 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences. According to the article, in view of the abuse of dominant position on the market of operating systems for mobile devices in Russia, Google as the owner of the Android OS can pay a fine ranging from 1% to 15% of its revenues on the Russian market in 2014.

In January 2016, Head of FAS Igor Artemyev said Russia’s competition law violation penalty for US Google Corporation will most likely amount to 7% of the turnover in 2014 with addressed inflation. According to Artemyev, the fine will most likely be 7% of the annual turnover, subject to various factors and aggravating circumstances: protraction of process, etc.

On September 14, 2015, the Federal Antimonopoly Service ruled that Google Inc. and Google Ireland Ltd. had breached the competition protection law under the complaint of the Russian Internet company Yandex. According to the regulator, Google obliged manufacturers of Android OS-based devices to pre-install its applications together with Android platform. FAS said that Google’s policy restricted installation of applications by other developers. Google did not agree with the ruling and appealed to the court.

Google did not agree with FAS decision and appealed to the court. On February 5, 2015, the Court brought Yandex as a third party in the case and decided to hold hearings behind closed doors. On March 14, the Moscow Arbitration Court has dismissed the lawsuit Google filed against Russia’s FAS.

Announcement of the amount of the fine for Google is rescheduled to May 11, 2016. According to the press service of the Russian antimonopoly regulator, the decision was made due to the fact that Google has not received the notification of the time and place of the hearing.

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