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Google’s record EU antitrust fine: what does it mean?

The European Commission orders changes to Google’s handling of its Android operating system.

The European Commission has issued Google with a record fine for exploiting its dominant position in search and apps on its Android operating system.

As Google processes the landmark decision, we answer the key questions.

– How much has Google been fined?

Google has been fined a record 4.34 billion euro (£3.9 billion) by the European Commission’s anti-competition department.

Google (Jonathan Brady/PA)

– Why has the European Commission fined Google?

The fine has been issued because of dominance over Google search and apps on Android devices.

An investigation by commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, found that Google required manufacturers to pre-install Google search and Google’s Chrome web browser, if they wanted to use the Google Play Store.

The commission also found that Google paid some manufacturers and mobile operators on the condition that they exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices.

Finally, the commission said that Google prevented manufacturers from selling phones that used alternative versions of Android.

– How has Google breached EU rules?

“Dominance is not a problem under EU antitrust rules,” Margrethe Vestager said. “But with market dominance comes a responsibility.”

The Commission says it is the “special responsibility” of bigger companies like Google to ensure other smaller players are able to compete fairly “on merit”.

– How has Google responded?

Google denies any wrongdoing and will appeal against the decision.

“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation, and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition,” a spokesman for the company said.

“We will appeal the Commission’s decision.”

– What does the decision mean for Android?

The Commission said Google has 90 days to change its practices or face further penalties of up to 5% of the company’s average daily turnover.

Android (Lauren Hurley/PA)

– Is this the first time Google has been fined by the European Commission?

No, Google has been fined by the Commission before.

Its last big fine, totalling 2.42 billion euro (£2.16 billion), was in 2017 for abuse of its monopoly over internet searches.

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