European Commission privacy regulations Wiki Commons

Last week we reported on Google’s latest punishment from the EU in the form of a record $5 billion fine. A new report from Bloomberg suggests the tech giant attempted to settle with the European Commission before the investigation closed.

Margrethe Vestager, competition commissioner for the European Union says Google attempted to negotiate a settlement last year.

The European Commission says the fine regards three restrictions Google placed on Android device OEMs. Under European laws the restrictions break antitrust regulations.

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Google knew it was on a slippery slope with the EU after receiving another record fine of $2.7 billion last year. That antitrust ruling was due to how the company abused its power to push its own shopping service.

Anticipating the likelihood of a larger fine for the Android antitrust case, the company sought a settlement in June 2017. The decision to seek a settlement came after Vestager refused to rule out a negotiation at a press conference.

Google’s lawyers tabled a settlement that involved suggestions for addressing concerns raised by the investigation. Among the concessions would have been to loosen limitations on OEMs. However, while Vestager had hinted a settlement was possible, she now insists Google waited too long to talk.

The commissioner points out companies seeking settlement with the EU must make contact directly after an investigation begins.

“That didn’t happen in this case and then, of course, it takes the route that it has now taken,” Vestager told Bloomberg. Last week, Vestager was critical of the company. She said Google used its power to ensure dominance in several sectors:

“Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine. In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine.”

End Game

The interesting aspect of this case is that the EU is hardly done with the company. I mentioned earlier on a slippery slope. Google riles regulators in Europe in other aspects and investigations into the company’s practices are certainly not over.

While it still seem unlikely at this point, each investigation and punishment is the EU moving closer to breaking the company up.

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