Google faces more competition charges in the European Union after the 28-member state bloc’s antitrust commissioner concluded in a preliminary decision that the company had abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device makers.
A Statement of Objections—which outlines Brussels’ charges—has been sent to Google this morning, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said during a press conference on Wednesday.Google will now be given the opportunity to respond to the commission’s concerns.
Vestager said that Google had pursued a “strategy to protect and expand its position in search,” by imposing what the commissioner described as “unjustified restrictions on manufacturers and mobile network operators.”
Vestager added: “This is an interim step and not the end of the road.” Google now has 12 weeks to respond to the commission’s charges.
It could eventually face a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual turnover, which as of 2015 stood at $74.5 billion.
Google said immediately after the Statement of Objections was released:
We take these concerns seriously, but we also believe that our business model keeps manufacturers’ costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices.
The commission said that it had notified Google of its key concerns in its antitrust investigation into the company’s Android operating system.
Vestager’s office flagged up issues with licensing of Google’s proprietary apps; a deal which prevents OEMs from selling devices running on Android forks; and exclusivity arrangements relating to pre-installs of Google’s search service.
Vestager said that “Google’s behaviour may have harmed consumers,” and added that folks should be free to enjoy a wide range of platforms, products, and services offered by tech companies in the EU.
“There is an obvious reason why Google is dominant; some of its products are preferred,” Vestager said. “That is all very good, but the one thing you can’t do is abuse your position to stay dominant.”
The EU’s competition officials have been separately carrying out a number of other investigations into Google’s business practices in Europe.
In April 2015, Vestager charged Google based on allegations that it was “systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages.”
On that particular case, Vestager said on Wednesday that the commission was poring over a “detailed response” from Google, and it was “currently in the process of analysing the very large amount of data” it had received.
“We are working on this as a matter of priority, but we can of course not sacrifice quality over speed,” she added.
Meanwhile, the commission is additionally probing Google’s behaviour regarding other concerns around search, including alleged restrictions on advertisers. “These investigations are not done yet,” Vestager said.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK