Does Google pay a colossal fine because of its search engine?

The European Court of Justice has fined Google $4.18 billion for forcing Android makers to install Google products on their devices.

By Joshua Jones | Published

According Deadline, a fine of around 4.18 billion dollars was imposed by the European Court of Justice on Google. The report notes that the court ruled that the big tech company imposed “unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device makers” and carriers when it came to “consolidating” its search engine’s position. The fine would be lower than what has been recommended by the Commission and the European Court of Justice.

In the original 2018 case, the Commission accused Google of illegally forcing handset makers to install their search engine app and the Chrome browser. The condition was supposed to license its Play Store. They previously made payments to large manufacturers and carriers on the condition that they agree to exclusively pre-install their app and prevent manufacturers from pre-installing previous versions of Android.

Google, however, argued that the payments and agreements kept Android as a free operating system. The company criticized EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager for allegedly taking the case against other tech giants. Google owner Alphabet already lost the $1 billion fine challenge last year.

The billion-dollar fine for Google comes as many of its services are seeing a significant turnaround. Deadline reported in July that the YouTube TV service surpassed 5 million subscribers after launching five years ago. As noted in the report, this number makes YouTube TV the fifth largest television distributor in the United States.

Google also recently changed its approach to TV and streaming. Two years ago, they decided to merge Chromecast and Android TV into one $50 branded deal. Chromecast, along with Google TV, is compatible with over 6,500 apps in the Android TV operating system.

It remains to be seen whether or not this billion-dollar fine harms Google. The company has been at the center of controversy for years, especially with its YouTube service. Many top creators on YouTube have criticized the company for its lack of communication and playing favorites.

Google has also been accused of beefing up rivals and failing to fight fake news. In 2018, the Commission found that the company’s political advertising metrics were not specific enough. Google did not say whether any measures were taken to combat fake news.

Regarding their relations with other countries, Google has been accused of censoring China as well. The Intercept reported in 2018 that Google planned to launch a censored search engine. The app would have allowed the “blacklisting of sensitive queries” and terms related to human rights, democracy, religion, etc.

According to The Intercept, the documents they obtained revealed that Google’s Chinese search app “automatically identified and filtered” websites blocked by the country’s so-called Great Firewall. Google’s original search engine for China was launched in 2006 but was pulled from the mainland in 2010. The Intercept reported that the company suspended development of another search engine for the country after complaints from the the company’s own privacy team.

Only time will tell if the heavy-handed tactics reported by Google will continue to damage the company’s public image. Right now, the company has a lot of explaining to do.