EU Antitrust Regulators Appoint Expert Panel on the Case Against Android
European Antitrust Regulators have been investigating multiple antitrust claims against Google. One such case led to a record fine of $2.7 billion (€2.42 billion) being levied on Google for violating European antitrust regulations as it was determined the company was manipulating search results to favor its own shopping service.
For one of its other cases, EU antitrust regulators have appointed a panel of experts to give a second opinion before handing down their decision. This case relates to Google’s dominance in the smartphone market through Android. As reported by Reuters, the commission had planned to establish a peer review panel, also known as a Devil’s Advocate, in June. Such panels usually consist of three to four experienced officials who examine the original case and its conclusion with a fresh pair of eyes to ensure that the case is robust.
If the newly formed panel agrees with the initial case team’s conclusions, it could pave the way for the European Commission to issue a decision against Google by the end of the year. Google is accused of leveraging Android’s dominant market position to unfairly gain a foothold in other segments. In particular, smartphone makers who wish to pre-load the Google Play Store are currently contractually obliged by Google to also install a whole host of other Google apps as well, including Google Search and Google Chrome. Google is also accused of paying OEMs to pre-install Search exclusively on their smartphones.
OEMs also reportedly cannot create and maintain their own fork of non-Google Android alongside other devices with Google’s Android in their portfolio. This prevents companies like Samsung and others from removing the Play Store entirely on some devices. So even though Android is open source, in practice using Android with Google’s services comes with a fair share of restrictions to it.
Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso and Google both declined to comment on the appointment. European Commission’s decision is expected to arrive by the year’s end.