By Aaron Kesel
Google was fined a mere $5 billion by the European Union and ordered to change the way it puts search and web browser apps on Android mobile devices in a global record for antitrust penalties, ABC News reported.
According to EU officials, Google’s terms for licensing its full-featured version of its Android OS, requires device makers to pre-install Google apps like Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, and the Play Store. This agreement violates antitrust laws and puts competing products at an unfair disadvantage, they stated.
But that small sum of money is literally nothing for the technological giant. Calculations show that is only just two weeks of revenue for Google’s parent Alphabet Inc and would barely dent its cash reserves of almost $140 billion. However, in the bigger picture, this could add to a brewing trade war between Brussels and Washington.
U.S. President Donald Trump already has remarked that this is evidence of “Europe’s unfair trade treatment of the U.S.”
“I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!” Trump tweeted.
I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google. They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2018
Google has been given 90 days to stop what the EU said were “illegal practices” on contracts with handset manufacturers that push Google services in front of consumers of Android phones.
“Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in an emailed statement. “These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits.”
Google immediately responded by stating that the company would be challenging the ruling at the EU courts.
“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition,” a spokesperson for Google said.
Google has followed up and posted a blog from CEO Sundar Pichai titled, “Android has created more choice, not less.” In the blog post, Pichai argues that the ruling “ignores the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones,” and “also misses just how much choice Android provides to thousands of phone makers and mobile network operators who build and sell Android devices.”
Pichai also stated that removing a pre-installed app is easy, and in the post provided a gif showing how easy it is, before Pichai concluded by saying that Google intends to appeal the decision.
The EU expressed that Google ensures its Google Search and Chrome browser are pre-installed on “practically all Android devices” sold in Europe. Users who find these apps on their phones are likely to stick with them and “do not download competing apps in numbers that can offset the significant commercial advantage derived on pre-installation.”
Google’s actions reduce the incentives for manufacturers to install and for users to seek out competing apps, the EU said.
The probe targeted Google’s contracts that require manufacturers of Android phones to take Google’s search and browser apps and other Google services when they want to license the Play app store, which officials stated is a “must-have” for new phones.
Essentially by Google arranging these deals, the EU is arguing that Google broke the law.
The EU also found illegal Google’s “significant financial incentives” to telecom operators and manufacturers that exclusively install Google search on its devices. Rivals of Google couldn’t compete with these payments, making it difficult for any other search engine to get their app pre-installed on manufacture phones. However, the EU said Google stopped doing this in 2014.
The EU further says Google’s history of paying large manufacturers to exclusively pre-install its apps is unlawful, and that these practices have made the marketplace less competitive.
Google’s contracts also prevented cell phone makers from selling phones using other versions of Android, the EU said. This hampered manufacturers from making devices using Amazon’s Fire OS Android version, it said.
This means Google will need to stop forcing cell phone manufacturers to preinstall Chrome and Google search and its other products in order to offer the Google Play Store on their handsets. Google will also need to stop preventing phone makers from using forked versions of Android, as the commission says Google “did not provide any credible evidence that Android forks would be affected by technical failures or fail to support apps.”
Although, that is arguably for security reasons and the EU might want to re-think that a little more thoroughly. It’s an absolute fact that Google has become a monopoly trying to serve consumers with every product it can think of by taking over several industries. With this ruling, maybe the Google monopoly train will come to a screeching halt.
This is awesome news for competitors like Presearch who are seeking to take away Google’s monopolized dominance on search by giving back to their users and allowing users more control over their own data. The ultimate goal of completely decentralizing search will allow an unbiased search engine that just works, and rewards you as a Presearch Community member for using it in PRE cryptocurrency.
Maybe in the future we will see a Presearch android app that is preloaded on manufacturers’ cell phones after this latest ruling. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility since Presearch was given the incredible award by Nasdaq as a top cryptocurrency to “bet the house on” for 2018.
Last year, I interviewed the founder of Presearch, Colin Pape, for Coinivore, who instantly got my attention when I found out that he had sued Google in an anti-trust lawsuit years back for another company he owns called ShopCity. The complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accused Google of rigging its search results to make it hard for consumers to find the ShopCity commerce websites.
Although this anti-trust lawsuit is in the UK and has nothing to do with search results, it’s widely known that Google manipulates its search results.
According to the 160-page report written by FTC staffers, the employees found evidence that Google was demoting its competitors and placing its own services on top of search results lists. Exactly like Pape described in his lawsuit alleging that his ShopCity business was being buried in Google’s search results.
Anyone with a quote like this has my full support! Colin gets it: information is sacred and needs to be protected against Alphabet.
“Tell the guy who’s had his business eradicated by an unintended consequence it’s not evil,” Colin Pape said.
“While Google is generally thought of as a neutral entity for search, the company answers to Wall Street and operates very secretively,” said Colin Pape, who founded Presearch and previously launched community commerce platform ShopCity.com. “They’ve become known for promoting themselves at the expense of alternatives and appropriating others’ information, blaming it on ‘the algorithm.’ The reality is that they manipulate results and justify changes as being best for the user. With Presearch, I wanted to flip that business model on its head and put power over information back into the hands of all internet users.”
This will be made possible starting with Presearch Labs and eventually shifted into an open source project. Search Architect Greg Lindahl will lead Presearch Labs as the team Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
Lindahl has the experience to make the decentralized search vision possible. He created an open source web crawler, CoCrawler and serves as an advisor to Common Crawl. Greg’s expertise on search doesn’t end there; he co-founded Blekko, a search engine that was acquired by IBM Watson. Greg also joined the Internet Archive to help them build out their search tool in the Wayback Machine.
In other news, Google may be forced to pay out compensation to more than 5 million Brits if a class action lawsuit in the UK is successful. A group, labeling itself “Google You Owe Us”, is taking Google to court, claiming it unlawfully collected personal information by bypassing privacy settings on Apple’s iPhone Safari browser. Google, Facebook, and several other online advertising networks were caught in 2012 using a workaround to bypass restrictions, allowing the companies to deposit cookies on an iPhone even if the device was set to block them.
A study in 2012 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that while Americans like being able to use a search engine, they don’t like search engines tracking their search history and using it to tailor content and online ads to them.
The statistics found that although 91 percent of those who use search engines find what they’re looking for, 73 percent consider it an invasion of privacy when such sites collect information about them and their search history.
According to that poll, sixty-eight percent of Internet users say they don’t like target advertising – or having their online behavior tracked and analyzed.
After years of privacy violations, abuse, and broken promises after each new scandal, it will seem refreshing to not use the term “Google it,” instead, soon users could be saying “Presearch it.” And that has a nice ring to it…
Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Minds, Steemit, SoMee, BitChute, Facebook and Twitter. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.
Image credit: Truthstream Media