Why Google was hit with $123 million Antitrust fine in Italy

Alan Joseph Alan Joseph
May 17, 2021 4 min read
Why Google was hit with $123 million Antitrust fine in Italy

Google has been fined by the watchdog of Italy in regards to abusing its dominant position in the market. Google already has a dominant position in the market through the Android smartphone platform. The tech company has been facing a lot of antitrust decisions in the recent years from the European Union. Let’s look at why the tech company has been fined by Italy’s watchdog.

Details of the Fine
Reason for the Fine
The Competetion
The ACGM
Google's Response
FAQ

Details of the Fine

Google has been fined by the watchdog of Italy which is estimated to be around USD 123 million for abusing its dominant position in the market. The case is related to the modified version of Google’s OS which is used in cars known as Android Auto.

The case is specifically concentrated on restrictions made by Google on their platform towards an electric car charging app called juice pass which is made by an energy company called Enel X Italia.

Reason for the Fine

Android Auto is a feature offered by Google for the drivers and motorists to access the maps and music streaming device while the vehicle is on the run through a dash mounted device. But Enel X Italia is a third-party app that was denied access to provide its features on Android Auto.

Enel X Italia’s mobile app is available through the smartphone version of the android platform but the users can’t use it or are supposed to use their phone while driving. So, the restriction of access of the app on the Android Auto is equal to cutting down their competition.


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The Competetion

The authorities have conveyed that the Google Maps app which provides basic services for the Electric vehicles such as finding and getting directions to charging points is available through Android Auto.

According to the findings of certain authorities, Google did not allow Enel X Italia to develop a version of the JuicePass app which would be compatible with the Android Auto OS.  

The JuicePass app had features that would be compatible with the motorists with safety. The app would let the motorists to find an electric vehicle station, providing directions and even reserving a place at the station.

By restricting the availability of the app on the Android Auto the authorities claim that the company has favored its Google Maps which currently provides the features of finding and locating charging stations and in the future can provide the features such as reserving a place and payment.

The ACGM

The AGCM has conveyed that Google had violated the Article 102 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union and has given an order to make the mobile application of JuicePass available on the Android Auto platform.

They also added that Google will have to provide the same access towards the Android Auto to other third-party app developers. AGCM has conveyed that it has concerns about whether Google’s restrictions on apps would have an impact on the electric mobility market.

They added that if this was going to continue then it would permanently impact the future of JuicePass and reduce their user base when the electric mobility market is developing in the country. This would reduce the choice for the consumers and also act as a barrier to innovation.


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Google's Response

Google has denied the accusation and has conveyed that they haven’t done anything wrong. At the same time, the company hasn’t confirmed whether they were planning to appeal. The tech giant has confirmed that the restrictions that they place on the applications are necessary to maintain the safety of the drivers.

They conveyed that they have been opening up the platform to more apps over time with thousands of them being more compatible. They have conveyed that they intend to expand its availability.

Google has said in a statement that they have strict guidelines on the types of apps which are currently supported and these apps are based on certain industry standards and driver distraction tests. They said that they disagree with the decision of the authority and are planning to review their options.

FAQ

What is meant by antitrust?

Antitrust laws are regulations that encourage competition by limiting the market power of any particular firm.

What are the 3 antitrust laws?

The three major antitrust laws in the U.S. are: the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA).

What is ACGM in Italy?

The Italian Competition Authority or AGCM is the Competition regulator in Italy.

Conclusion

The AGCM has said that it would monitor the compliance of Google so that it ensures to order it effectively and implements the obligations correctly to provide access to third party apps through Android Auto.

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