EU Antitrust Regulators Appoint Expert Panel on the Case Against Android


Vestager has set high stakes for Google to comply with an European Union order accompanying last month's 2.4 billion-euro ($2.7 billion) penalty. In 2016, the Commission formally accused Google of having "abused its dominant position" with Android; a final determination in that case is still pending.

The commission said at the time that it would focus on three key aspects in its investigation including whether Google prevented hardware manufacturers from creating forked versions of Android, whether or not the search giant hindered the development and access of rival mobile apps and services by forcing OEMs to exclusively pre-install Google apps and services and finally, whether Google apps and services on Android devices have been bundled with other Google apps, APIs or services. The announcement concluded a seven-year investigation by the EC, but Google said it disagreed with the ruling and is considering an appeal.

The potential fine is expected to top that 2.4 billion euro penalty. This case relates to Google's dominance in the smartphone market through Android.

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"If Google was forced to unbundle Google Play from its other Digital Life services, handset makers and operators would be free to set whatever they like by default potentially triggering a decline in the usage of Google's services", he told Reuters, in reference to Google's app store.

A commission spokesperson and Google did not offer comment to Reuters. "Google is hurting Android users, including by surreptitiously commandeering ever-increasing amounts of personal data", Vinje said. The practices that the Commission targeted include Google's requirements from Android device makers. Regulators also raised concerns about how telecom operators are paid to put Google search on devices. The experts are part of a so-called devil's advocate review panel, meant to look at the Commission's conclusions in the case in order to ensure that they are robust. Considering these panels usually only take a month or so to do their research, it may not be long before we see The European Commission handing down an even larger fine than the one Google suffered last week. It was not clear if the panel has started work yet.