PARIS — In its latest effort to rein in the dominance of global tech giants, the European Commission slapped Google with a 4.34 billion euro fine Wednesday and said the company violated antitrust rules to bolster its search engine on Android devices.
“Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine. In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement.
Alphabet-owned Google said it would appeal the decision, and sought to portray the company as contributing to a system that offered lower prices and more choices.
“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition,” said Google in a statement.
In a blog post, Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai said Androids offer choice to consumers and shot back that the decision was a ruling against the business model of such devices.
In its decision, the European Commission argued that Google arranged for its search app to be installed in most Android devices sold in Europe, granted hefty financial incentives to Android manufacturers to exclusively pre-install its search function and impeded the development and distribution of competing operating systems.
Google has 90 days to end such practices or face penalties of up to 5 percent of the average daily turnover of its parent company, the commission added.
Europe has been leading the global charge to regulate technology matters and recently introduced GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, meant to protect the privacy of consumers.