Google trial begins over 4.3 billion EC fine

Google accused of illegal practices on Android devices to boost its search engine
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Yesterday, Monday, possibly the most eagerly awaited trial of the year began. One of the world's largest business giants, Google, is facing the European Commission (EC) before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg on 27 September. The reason for this is the 4.3 billion euro fine that the EC imposed on Google in 2018 for considering it illegal to sign contracts with Android device manufacturers. According to the Commission, Google intended to strengthen its power as a search engine by pre-installing Chrome on mobile phones and tablets, in addition to having Google selected as the default search engine as standard.

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AFP/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD - President of the European Commission German Ursula von der Leyen at a press conference

The hearing will last until Friday of this week, giving the multinational five days to present its arguments in order to avoid the billion-dollar fine. It is also a record amount. It is the largest fine ever levied against a company since the creation of the European Union. However, Google's lawyers are trying to defend the company's practices in an attempt to avoid, or at least reduce, the amount of a very high fine, even for an organisation like the US company.

Google will have to argue the reasons for the pre-installation of its browser, as well as the abolition of the manufacture of devices with AOSP operating systems - also known as Pure Android - (Android Open Source Project). To understand this veto, it is important to know that AOSP is, after all, the same operating system as Android, but without Google. It does not have its search engine or Google Play shop services. For these reasons, it is sometimes widely used by developers to create custom ROMs, i.e. a fully customised storage memory.

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The company headed by Sundar Pichai flatly denies that there is any obligation for any company to pre-install its apps on other devices. Within those that are already theirs, they defend their position by arguing that each mobile phone usually comes with an average of 40 applications and that their services "balance the Android ecosystem". They also explain that this tool is an important source of income to cover the costs of offering their operating system free of charge to their partners, something that did not convince the European Commission three years ago and ended up with a historic penalty, if they do not manage to remedy it this week.

"They are also free to pre-install competing applications alongside ours. We only make money if they are installed and people decide to use them," says Pichai. They also rely on one of their biggest rivals in the market, Apple. While on Android devices you can install any application, on Apple devices you can only download those that the company itself allows. An argument that becomes a direct attack on the philosophy of the company led by Tim Cook, which has been standing out for several decades