Crackdown

Google gets slapped with a record $4B EU antitrust fine — and other big techies could be next

Thursday, September 15, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
Preinstalled problems (Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)

Preinstalled problems (Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)

Googling "how to delete apps"… Yesterday the European Union ordered Google to pay a massive $4B after the tech titan lost an appeal challenging an antitrust ruling. Back in 2018, the search giant was fined $5B over accusations it forced manufacturers to preinstall Google apps (think: Chrome, Search) on Android phones. FYI: about 70% of smartphones in Europe run on Google’s Android.

  • Google vs. the EU: Over the past decade, Google's faced $8B+ in EU antitrust fines, including $2.4B last year for biased results on its Google Shopping platform.
  • Double whammy: Yesterday, South Korea’s privacy committee fined Google $50M and Meta $22M for collecting user data for targeted ads.
  • FYI: Google has a $125B cash pile, so a $4B fine won’t make a huge dent — but the regulatory aftermath could force Google to change its profitable biz model.

The EU’s antitrust arsenal… is stacked. Earlier this year, EU policymakers approved laws aimed at regulating tech juggernauts. Under the Digital Markets Act, companies can be fined up to 10% of their global revenue for breaking the rules — and up to 20% for repeat offenses. It could all add up for techies caught in the crosshairs:

  • Apple’s faced several EU antitrust charges, including over its refusal to let competitors like PayPal use its contactless payment tech.
  • Amazon’s been stuck in a three-year investigation over how it collects data from rival retailers and uses Prime to force sellers into its logistics biz.
THE TAKEAWAY

“Hot Antitrust Summer” may be over… but a chilly antitrust fall may be dawning. Antitrust crackdowns abroad could push policymakers to increase pressure in the US, where tech regulation has largely stalled. It’s already starting: yesterday California regulators sued Amazon, alleging it prevents merchants from offering lower prices through competitors’ sites.