The orange danger has spoken about the mega-fine that the EU has distributed to Google because of the abuse of power on Android. Google requires all device manufacturers to bundle Google Search and the Chrome browser with all Android installations and that is not allowed by the EU. This week the hammer fell and it was announced that Google has to pay 4.3 billion euros fine. This comes on top of the 2.4 billion euro fine that Google already owes for the abuse of its dominance within its own search engine.
In the US, the fines are not well understood, not least because the methods are so different. In the US, action is usually only taken if it can be proven that consumers are being harmed, while the EU often goes against a certain practice on principle grounds. Put simply, the EU will act if a certain practice is not fair, the US will only do something if there are literal victims.
They must always have us
The EU’s actions seem to be specifically aimed at US companies: Google, Apple, Starbucks and Amazon have all been on the stick with the EU. That has one reason: almost all megalomaniac companies that convert billions into the EU come from America. The tricks they use to save money, give themselves an advantage or disadvantage others may be strictly speaking or legal in the US, but it continues to cheat and – if proven – is simply punished in the EU.
However, it does provide a picture on the other side of the ocean that only US companies are being punished. Completely unjustified, says the Danish Margrethe Vesteger who presides over the antitrust committee. He has said many times that she has no interest in where a company comes from, whether it plays with the rules of honesty. Apparently that is not universally believed and President Trump is also of the opinion. As usual, unhindered by some knowledge, he thrown things on Twitter, in this case a semi-threat.
Part of the trade war
His response fits perfectly into the picture he is trying to sketch of the relationship between the US and Europe: America pays and Europe benefits. Amidst all kinds of trade wars started by Trump, this is an excellent extra argument to indicate Europe as an enemy. It goes without saying that every American president would not be happy with such a high fine for an American company, but to pretend that this is an attack from the EU towards America goes way too far. The research on Google has been running for three years and so all parties knew that this could happen. In fact, there may be another penalty for Google if the EU can prove that Google has unfairly drafted adSense ad platform.
Furthermore, in the US there is not much talk about the fines. This may be due to the fact that in America too the realization is coming that the large tech companies now have a lot of power over the daily business in the world. The EU is clearly the ‘bad cop’ at the moment, because similar research on Google in the US was completed more than five years ago without taking any action. Somebody has to do it anyway, as it turned out when the EU enforced the [GDPR ] and these rules have largely been adopted worldwide. You can not expect a foresight from Trump. The rest of the (American) politics might have to think about the fact that if the big tech companies of today can go about their business undisturbed, it will be very difficult to get some form of competition to stand up. Hopefully, it will stay with this empty tweet of the president. The good news? That chance is very big anyway, so that makes a difference.