Trump says Google fine proves EU "taking advantage" of US

The European Commission handed Google a €4.34bn fine for breaking EU antitrust rules

Trump says Google fine proves EU "taking advantage" of US

US President Donald Trump during a cabinet meeting at the White House, 18-07-2018. Image: Olivier Douliery/DPA/PA Images

US President Donald Trump has accused the EU of 'taking advantage' of the US over the billion-Euro fine handed to Google yesterday.

The European Commission handed down the €4.34bn sanction yesterday, accusing the tech giant of imposing illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to "cement its dominant position" in general internet search.

The Commission singled out Google's demand that manufacturers pre-install the Google Search app and Chrome browser before it grants them a licence for the Google app store known as the Play Store.

It also accused the company of paying large manufacturers and operators to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices.

It said Google was blocking manufacturers who wished to pre-install Google apps from selling ay devices that run on alternative version of Android, that were not approved by Google.

"Told you so!"

In a tweet this afternoon, US President Donald Trump said the sanctions backed his claims that the EU was 'taking advantage' of the US, adding "not for long."

In recent weeks, President Trump has singled out the EU as a "foe" when it comes to trade.

In an interview with CBS News last week he said the US had "a lot of foes" - with the EU top of the list.

"I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn't think of the European Union but they're a foe," he said.

"In a trade sense, they've really taken advantage of us.

"Many of those countries are in NATO and they weren't paying their bills and, you know, as an example [I have] a big problem with Germany."

The US President has instigated a trade war with a number of regions in recent months, and recently slapped duties on European steel and aluminium products.

In response, the EU imposed a 25% import tax on products including Harley Davidson motorbikes, Levi jeans, bourbon whiskey and orange juice.

Free ecosystem

Yesterday Google CEO Sundar Pichai warned that the finding could threaten the future of Android’s free business model.

In a blog post yesterday, he said: "In 2007, we chose to offer Android to phone makers and mobile network operators for free."

"Of course, there are costs involved in building Android, and Google has invested billions of dollars over the last decade to make Android what it is today.

"This investment makes sense for us because we can offer phone makers the option of pre-loading a suite of popular Google apps.

"We are concerned that today’s decision will upset the careful balance that we have struck with Android and that it sends a troubling signal in favour of proprietary systems over open platforms."

He said the Android business model "has created more choice for everyone, not less" and warned that Google intends to appeal the decision.

Market dominance

Announcing the Google fine yesterday, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the US giant was using Android as a " vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine."

"These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits," she said.

"They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules."

This case follows a June 2017 ruling, in which the Commission fined Google €2.42bn for abusing its dominance as a search engine - by giving an illegal advantage to Google's own comparison shopping service.

The Commission said it is "actively monitoring" Google's compliance with that decision.

It is also continuing to investigate restrictions Google has placed on the ability of certain third party websites to display search advertisements from Google's competitors - known as the AdSense case.

Additional reporting IRN ...