Google is appealing against the record €2.4bn (£2.2bn) fine imposed by the European Union for its abuse of its dominance of the search engine market in building its shopping comparison service. The world's most popular internet search engine has launched its appeal after it was fined by the European commission for what was described as an "old school" form of illegality. The Luxembourg-based general court, Europe's second-highest, is expected to take several years before ruling on Google's appeal, which had been widely expected. The Silicon Valley giant had responded to the fine at the time of its announcement by saying that it "respectfully" disagreed with the legal argument being pursued. A spokesman for the commission said: "The commission will defend its decision in court."
Google has been forced to open up Android to rival search engines and applications in Russia, after settling a two-year battle with competition authorities for 439m roubles (£6.2m). The deal sets a new precedent for Google, which until now has resisted permitting the pre-installation of rival search engines and certain applications on to the world's most popular operating system. In 2015, Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) ruled that the Android-maker was breaking the law and abusing its dominant position through restrictions on third-party manufacturers, fining Google 438m rubles (£6.2m) in August 2016. The FAS said that Google will no longer demand exclusivity of its applications on Android devices sold in Russia and will not restrict the pre-installation of rival search engines and other applications. Google will also develop a tool allowing users to choose the default search engine on new and existing Android devices, a similar measure put in place by Microsoft for browser choice on Windows following antitrust action by the European Commission.
The European Union's digital chief wants search engines such as Alphabet Inc's Google and Microsoft's Bing to be more transparent about advertising in web search results but ruled out a separate law for web platforms. European Commission vice-president Andrus Ansip, who is overseeing a wide-ranging inquiry into how web platforms conduct their business, said on Friday the EU executive would not take a horizontal approach to regulating online services. "We will take a problem-driven approach," Ansip said. "It's practically impossible to regulate all the platforms with one really good single solution." Related: Do Google's'unprofessional hair' results show it is racist?
The problem with regulating technology companies is that, faced with tough new rules, they can eventually innovate their way out, often by switching to newer, unregulated technologies. The risk of targeted regulation informed by little other than economic doctrines might even be fuelling a corporate quest for eternal disruption: instead of surrendering to the regulators, technology firms prefer to abandon their old business model. It's through this lens that we should interpret the likely fallout from the €2.4bn fine imposed on Alphabet, Google's parent company, by the European commission. It arrives after a lengthy, seven-year investigation into whether the company abused its dominance to promote its own online shopping service above search results. The commission's case seems sound; the sad fate of small online retailers, unable to compete with Alphabet over the past decade, suggests as much.
Google is starting a research unit in Europe focused solely on machine learning, a major branch of artificial intelligence. The Zurich-based project, announced today (June 16), will be key to the company's ambitions, as it bets big on machine learning to power its next generation of products. These include the digital assistant inside its Allo chat app, its driverless car efforts, and enhancements to its ubiquitous search engine. The new unit, called Google Research, Europe, comes at a time when the search giant is facing serious scrutiny from European authorities. The European commission has the company in its crosshairs, as it faces two antitrust charges, over a search product and Android, which could rack up billions in fines.