EU fines Google $5 billion
European regulators came down hard on another U.S. tech giant Wednesday, fining Google a record $5 billion for forcing cellphone makers that use the company’s Android operating system to install Google search and browser apps.
The European Union said Google’s practices restrict competition and reduce choices for consumers.
While Google can easily afford the fine, the ruling could undermine the company’s business model, which relies on giving away its operating system in return for opportunities to sell ads and other products.
Google immediately said it will appeal, arguing that its free operating system has led to lower-price phones and created competition with its chief rival, Apple.
Android has “created more choice for everyone, not less,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted.
The fine, which caps a three-year investigation, is the biggest imposed on a company by the EU for anticompetitive behavior.
It is likely to stoke tensions between Europe and the U.S., which regulates the tech industry with a lighter hand and has complained that the EU is singling out American companies for punishment.
Still, some U.S. politicians welcomed the ruling.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut tweeted that the fine should “be a wake-up call” to the Federal Trade Commission and “should lead U.S. enforcers to protect consumers.” Blumenthal previously called on regulators to investigate how Google tracks users of Android phones.