Italy fines Google 102-M euros for abusing dominant position

By Ramon Monsalve, Jr.

May 14, 2021, 2:41 pm

<p>Google headquarters in Mountain View, California in the United States. <em>(Xinhua/Chen Gang)</em></p>

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California in the United States. (Xinhua/Chen Gang)

ROME - Italy's Competition Authority (AGCM) has fined Google about 102 million euros (123 million US dollars) for abusing its dominant position in the Italian market, the authority said in a statement on Thursday.

The watchdog said Google violated the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union since the US tech giant refused to allow an Italian company's app to interoperate with Google's Android Auto app which mirrors features of an Android device on a car's dashboard information and entertainment head unit.

The JuicePass App, developed by Enel X's Italian branch - the Enel X Italia, allows several services for recharging electric vehicles, including finding and booking a place at recharging stations.

"Through the Android operating system and the Google Play app store, Google holds a dominant position allowing it to control the access of app developers to end-users," AGCM explained.

Noting that about three-quarters of smartphones in Italy currently use the Android system, the authority said that Google "has unfairly limited the possibilities for end-users to avail themselves of the Enel X Italia app when driving and recharging an electric vehicle."

"Google has consequently favored its own Google Maps app," it said.

This policy towards the Enel X Italia app went on for more than two years.

If it were to continue, it could permanently jeopardize the company's chances of building a solid user base at a time of significant growth in sales of electric vehicles, according to the anti-trust watchdog.

"In addition, the JuicePass app could not be included in the list of applications used by users, leading to an impoverishment of consumer choice and an obstacle to technological progress," it added.

The authority also stated that Google's conduct might have a wider impact on the development of electric mobility, and the development of an infrastructure network for recharging electric vehicles.

As a result, possible negative effects could occur to the diffusion of electric vehicles, to the use of clean energy, and the transition towards more environmentally sustainable mobility, it said.

Google replied by saying that they "respectfully disagree with the Authority's decision."

"We will study the documents and review our options," Ansa news agency quoted a Google spokesperson as saying. (Xinhua)