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Google Businesses EU The Courts

Google Facing Billions in EU Antitrust Fines (axios.com) 230

Another EU antitrust fine for Google is coming down the pipe in mid-July over allegations Google has used its Android mobile operating system to beat out rivals, Reuters reports. From a report: The European Commission has been investigating the case since 2015. It's another example of how the EU takes anti-competition violations far more seriously than the U.S. In June of last year, the EU slapped Google with a record $2.8 billion fine for anti-trust practices around its search product, which they said unfairly pushed consumers to use Google's Shopping platform. Sources told Reuters they expect this new fine to top that record.

Google Facing Billions in EU Antitrust Fines

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  • by InvalidsYnc ( 1984088 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @12:50PM (#56743562)

    With a $2.8B fine, and another that could be higher, would it just be more profitable to stay away from the EU where they appear to keep their economy afloat via litigation (gross overgeneralization, but you know what I mean)?

    • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @12:54PM (#56743588)

      Perhaps they should not have started a business in a place they where unwilling to follow the law.

      • Running a personal data-mining business in a region of the world with strict policy laws? What could possibly go wrong?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 )

        Perhaps they should not have started a business in a place they where unwilling to follow the law.

        Well, they seem to be just changing the laws under them over and over again...becoming more onerous each time.

        This is like the EU is trying to step up and dictate what a private company's business model is.

        If the EU wants a search without the things Google offers and requires of its users, why don't they just build a state sponsored service, EUuugle or something and offer that to their citizens, rather than

        • They don't have to build it, all they have to do is work their laws so that there is a healthy competitive market where companies are not allowed to subsidize their capabilities with behavior that they don't want, or at least the effect of such behavior is mitigated with penalties. That is exactly what they are doing. If a company makes billions of dollars violating the laws then what is the motivation to create an honest company locally?
          • They don't have to build it, all they have to do is work their laws so that there is a healthy competitive market where companies are not allowed to subsidize their capabilities with behavior that they don't want, or at least the effect of such behavior is mitigated with penalties. That is exactly what they are doing. If a company makes billions of dollars violating the laws then what is the motivation to create an honest company locally?

            But that's the beauty of the internet.

            There is NO barrier from right

            • The lack of a barrier is the PROBLEM with the internet. The only hope for a small company looking to compete with Google is to identify a niche to protect them from Google; otherwise it is automatically a non-starter. You can't make yourself a distinctive product with no areas of the internet that are in themselves distinctive. Adding regulations, such as severely hampering Google's ability to do business in the EU, and therefore having smaller companies that specialize in the EU, is the only way to both
        • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @02:50PM (#56744470) Journal

          Well, they seem to be just changing the laws under them over and over again...becoming more onerous each time.

          Yep, companies keep doing increasingly dickish things os the EU regulations get tighter.

          This is like the EU is trying to step up and dictate what a private company's business model is.

          Yep the EU is dictating that being massive asshats is not a valid business model. I'm cool with that.

        • Because Google can do that much better. But companies that donâ(TM)t adhere to EU laws get fined. Also EU based companies, like Apple for instance.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          This has been in the works for the better part of a decade. The EU agreed some changes with them, but they didn't happen. This is really the last resort.

        • If the EU wants a search without the things Google offers and requires of its users, why don't they just build a state sponsored service

          I'm going to go with anti-trust abuse, you know ... kind of the entire point which you are complaining about.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by colonslash ( 544210 )

        The law is being interpreted in a really strange way. Android has a major competitor with iOS. There's also the AOSP, so manufacturers can install Android without Google's branded software.

        Manufacturers aren't prohibited from installing their own software, including software which serves the same functions as Google's options, so rival options aren't even chosen by Google - they're chosen by the manufacturers. And that's just the original install... users can choose their own browser, or other apps.

        So, ther

        • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @02:29PM (#56744338) Journal

          Manufacturers aren't prohibited from installing their own software, including software which serves the same functions as Google's options

          Except that if you want to install any Google apps, then you must install the entire suite and if you want to install competing apps then there are different licensing terms that cost more. And if you don't then it's impossible for your customers to install most third-party software because Google has managed to achieve an effective monopoly on distribution of most Android apps. And if you do install the Play store then you also need Play services, which run with insane permissions and hook into almost every app installed from Play.

          • Manufacturers aren't prohibited from installing their own software, including software which serves the same functions as Google's options

            Except that if you want to install any Google apps, then you must install the entire suite and if you want to install competing apps then there are different licensing terms that cost more. And if you don't then it's impossible for your customers to install most third-party software because Google has managed to achieve an effective monopoly on distribution of most Android apps. And if you do install the Play store then you also need Play services, which run with insane permissions and hook into almost every app installed from Play.

            How is this any different than Apple? You don't have an option of not installing Apple apps on any of their mobile devices, and they most certainly have an effective monopoly on distribution of most iOS apps. Or will your response simply be that Apple has less market share so its ok for them to have a monopoly on app distribution and provide no ability to run iOS without Apple apps?

        • Android has a major competitor with iOS.

          Classic misunderstanding of anti-trust. The legal yardstick is "market power" not "does Apple somehow manage to defend its sliver."

    • They could also play by the rules, and avoid the fine while still making more money compared to not selling anything at all.

    • With a $2.8B fine, and another that could be higher, would it just be more profitable to stay away from the EU where they appear to keep their economy afloat via litigation (gross overgeneralization, but you know what I mean)?

      1) These billion dollar fines are a great way to keep the European government funded!

      2) Trillion dollar corporations wouldn't even blink at a million dollar fine. The fines for egregious behavior need to be commensurate with their size.

      • These billion dollar fines are a great way to keep the European government funded

        It's a drop in the bucket. This is about attending to the interests of their citizens.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        These fines are not even one percent of the yearly budget (145bn EUR), as they're paid over many years.

    • that's 1/4th of one quarter's earnings...cost of doing business noise level
    • Where, except in the EU, do people buy Android phones worth > $500?

    • would it just be more profitable to stay away from the EU

      So just to be clear what you're saying is that staying away from a rich market twice the size of the USA is more profitable because of measly $2.8bn fine? I take it you've never actually seen a financial report before. You know that fine is less than Google's EU tax avoidance scheme right? A company that made $26bn last year, a large chunk of which was in EU business.

      But yeah, let's make knee jerk reactions about something which we know nothing about because of ${scarybignumber}

      • Yeah. Makes more sense for them to just jack up the price of their services in Europe, anyway, and pass the cost of the fine on to consumers.

      • Besides... it's not like they'll actually pay it... and if they do, they'll pay it over 50 years with a 0.1% interest rate.

        Winning the money isn't the same as collecting it and I'm pretty sure it costs less than 2.8 billion euro to run the collectors around in circles for a few decades.
    • With a $2.8B fine, and another that could be higher, would it just be more profitable to stay away from the EU where they appear to keep their economy afloat via litigation (gross overgeneralization, but you know what I mean)?

      The US is the most litigious country in the world, where people can make millions by getting their lips burned by a hot cup of coffee at starbucks, which is why the US is plastered with ridiculous warning signs all over the place. So I guess you know best.

      But it is good that you're being a real patriot defending the honor of US companies against blackmailing and leeching EU bureaucrats. Too bad Google is not very patriotic and moving all of their billions in revenue through Ireland to pay almost nothing in

    • Cheaper to obey the law.

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      Google already got crushed in China and effectively contained in Russia. If it loses EU, it's left with Americas, Africa and some parts of Asia.

      And anything that is created to fill the void left by google will rapidly grow to be able to compete with google, as we have seen with tencent's services in Asia and yandex in Russia.

  • Waaah? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NettiWelho ( 1147351 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @12:58PM (#56743630)

    which they said unfairly pushed consumers to use Google's Shopping platform.

    They have what now? As an European, this is the first time I am hearing about "google's shopping platform", ever

    • by isj ( 453011 )

      It really depends on what you search for.

      When I search for "nvdimm" og "bicycle stand" the first that google shows are shopping results from Google's shopping platform.

      Don't expect shopping results for "python substring" or "miniature durian"

    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      They have what now? As an European, this is the first time I am hearing about "google's shopping platform", ever.

      It has something to do with the "Shopping" tab that appears just to the right of the "all" tab in search results and the list of 3-4 places that you could buy a product with price that appears on the right hand side of the screen under "Shop Now."

      You won't ever have seen those either since you apparently have never used Google to search and entered a product name. But whether you've seen it is n

    • They have what now? As an European, this is the first time I am hearing about "google's shopping platform", ever

      It's okay. I too have never typed in a product name on the internet.

      • They have what now? As an European, this is the first time I am hearing about "google's shopping platform", ever

        It's okay. I too have never typed in a product name on the internet.

        I just tried looking for whole bunch of stuff listed on actual google shopping frontpage I see and none of the query results came back with google shopping links..

  • Is EU paying google to run search service? Why they are treated like a public sponsored company or utility company? They are private business and they return results anyway they want to.
    • Is EU paying google to run search service? Why they are treated like a public sponsored company or utility company?
      They are private business and they return results anyway they want to.

      Because the EU has sovereignty over the EU and has the right to tell any country that operates within their jurisdiction what to do.
      Google has the right to not do business in the EU if it doesn't like the laws there.

      The US does similar things all the time with companies from other countries.

      If you operate in the US you follow US rules there. If you operate in the EU you follow EU rules there.

  • The EU is just sucking money out of US tech firms now. Android is free to use. There are no viable rivals that can do what Android does, other than Apple's iOS. Who would buy a new phone without a solid app platform, and pay extra to avoid Android? I don't get it.
    • You have no idea what this case is about, do you ?

    • Android is free to use.

      No, it isn't.

      AOSP is free to use. Android has strings and costs attached.

    • The EU is just sucking money out of US tech firms now.

      Wait, what? I thought the US tech firms were sucking money out of the EU.

    • 1) iOS used to be less buggy than Android. But to keep the market fair, Apple made iOS buggy enough to be Android now.

      2) Neither iOS or Android has a solid app platform, they do however both have a massive number of apps. Some of them are even moderately decent. Of course if you have a T-Mobile Samsung you probably can't download the app or a software update because Play Store on that platform crashes after 10 taps or less.

      3) Google still has impressively shitty music and movie stores outside of the US comp
  • I would love it if every one of the Top 5 (Apple, Microsoft, Google/Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon) said "You know what? Fuck it. We're out" and just left Europe entirely. Just leave it to its own devices.

    • So basically you'd like these firms to make a cartel?

    • Re:I would love it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @01:56PM (#56744146)

      I would love it if every one of the Top 5 (Apple, Microsoft, Google/Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon) said "You know what? Fuck it. We're out" and just left Europe entirely. Just leave it to its own devices.

      The EU is larger economically than the US. Sure, they could leave, but they'd be losing a huge % of their profits. They don't want to do that. They also know if they left the EU it would give other countries free roam to fill in the gap and create their own companies doing the same thing. Those companies could then operate in the US.

      It would be a death knell to those companies to leave the EU.

    • In which backyard town in yahoo US do you live?

      Where do more people live (and wealthy?), north America, or EU? Or EU plus surrounding non EU countries?

      Just because the US has a few big cities and in total 325million inhabitants, does not mean it is super significant for companies like Google, Facebook or Amazon or Apple. (EU inhabitants: 741.4 million)

      • EU inhabitants: 741.4 million

        If that's actually true then the EU must have taken in about 200 million immigrants last year. The population in 2017 was 511 millions.

        And if it is actually true that the EU took in 200 million refugees in 1 year, then goodbye Europe, it was nice knowing you. Time to pull all US businesses and assets out of there before they end up burning in the downfall.

        Should have built a wall while they had the chance.

        • Perhaps you should increase your google foo ...

        • Actually, I have to improve my google foo.
          My apologize.

          I accidentally posted the population of Europe, not of the EU.

          However your nasty comment about 200million immigrants irks me a bit ... what would be wrong with having 200 million immigrants? Does not matter if they starve in their country of origin or an EU country.

          • Ask the native americans.

          • I'm an American who immigrated to Norway. I came here, I took a local woman. I spread my seed and produced offspring and took some of the best jobs in engineering that Norway had to offer. I polluted the local culture with Americanisms. I've brought the word "Nifty" back to life on an almost national scale.

            I am an immigrant and I'm not leaving!

            One day though, I will become a Norwegian citizen (for tax purposes) and when that happens, I swear... I will vote for any politician that is in favor of a total ban
    • I would love it if every one of the Top 5 (Apple, Microsoft, Google/Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon) said "You know what? Fuck it. We're out" and just left Europe entirely. Just leave it to its own devices.

      And why would they do that? Let's add some perspective:

      2017 net profit: $27bn
      EU market: 10% of the world
      EU market for rich western consumers: 60% of world
      EU fine: $2.8bn

      I feel like I'm missing something....

      Oh that's right: Tax avoidance due to double Irish with a Dutch sandwich: $3.8bn

      Yeah I'd be putting up with a lot of fines for that kind of a sweet deal.

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      Top 5 is missing JD and Tencent, who would love to get to #1 and #2 with this level of stupidity. They already have experience in this field, as they got big after google et al left China after refusing to obey Chinese laws.

  • I think Google should charge for any of their ad supported services and software when they're not allowed to advertise through them. Charge for search, charge for Android, etc. If Google gets fines and can't collect revenue then the users should pay for the services and software.

  • WTF did /. link the Axios summary? [reuters.com]

    Why stop there? Link the reddit link.

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