The Open Internet Project (OIP), a formal plaintiff in the Android case, condemns Google’s recent announcements to auction the place of default search engine on Android, thus forcing their competitors to make a paid offer for be featured on Android smartphones and tablets.
In July 2018, the European Commission fined Google €4.3 billion for abusing its dominant position in the Android operating system by pre-installing Google Search as the default search engine. The Commission forced Google to stop this illegal tying of Android and Google Search by allowing users to choose third-party search engines. In view of Google’s obligation to end the abuse, the OIP condemns the fact that Google now expects its competitors to pay to be findable and selectable by users, because it only exchanges abusive behavior against another and thus continues to deprive consumers of real choice and to distort competition.
The mechanism proposed by Google does the opposite. Instead of restoring competition and leveling the playing field, the proposed auction system forces competing search services to offer a large part of their revenue to Google, while Google Search enjoys a pre – free installation for many years and that any future payments would only be Google’s internal “pocket-to-pocket” accounting. A mechanism that expects competitors to pay to be treated fairly does not improve the situation for anyone other than Google, let alone remedy the serious harm to competition caused by the abuse of dominant position identified.
In this context, the OIP recalls that European digital companies, driving innovations, bring pluralism and freedom of choice to the 500 million European consumers, and that any attempt to restrict this freedom must be dealt with quickly and effectively.
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