Italy Hits Google with $123 Million Fine for Abusing Its Power

By McKenzie Carpenter Thursday, May 13, 2021

Google, the massive international technology company, is being fined €102 million ($123 million) for antitrust violations related to the business abusing its power.

Google Maps app on a smartphone.

$123 Million Fine

The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (ACGM), also known as the Italian Competition Authority, announced it concluded an investigation resulting in the technology business being fined $123 million for violating Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The article is meant to prevent those who hold a dominant position in a particular market from abusing that position.

According to the ACGM, the Android operating system and the Google Play store, which the technology company owns and operates, did not allow JuicePass app compatibility so that it could operate on Android Auto.

Android Auto is a specific feature meant to allow app activity while driving. JuicePass is an app created by Enel X Italia that connects users with EV services like finding charging locations, reserving charging locations spots, and managing charging sessions.

The Italian authority went on to state that by not allowing JuicePass app compatibility, the technology company was favoring Google Maps, which runs on Android Auto, and therefore abusing its dominant position in the market for Google’s own gain.

With the JuicePass app being unavailable for more than two years, Enel X Italia has faced the difficult challenge of building a user base for the app and potentially affecting the overall success of the business itself and the future of the EV services market. An additional layer to this fine is that the ACGM claims that roughly three-quarters of smartphones in Italy use the Android system.

In addition to the fine, the ACGM is requesting that the technology company makes JuicePass available on Android Auto. Going forward, the ACGM “...will monitor the effective and correct implementation of the imposed obligations through an independent expert to whom Google must provide all cooperation and information requested.”

Google has maintained its position in denying any wrongdoings. The business has not disclosed if it plans to appeal the ACGM’s ruling.

Other Google Investigations

This new fine from the ACGM against the technology company is not the first time Google has received some backlash for its operating practices. Business Insider India reports that the technology business has been fined over $10 billion by the European Union (EU) in the last three years alone for other antitrust violations that prevent competition.

The ACGM alone has launched many investigations into the technology company in the last decade or so. More recently, in September 2020, the ACGM launched an investigation into Apple, Google, and DropBox over complaints of unfair commercial practices regarding cloud storage services. A month later, in October 2020, there was another ACGM investigation against Google for abusing its dominant position related to display advertising in the Italian market.

In the United States (US), the Justice Department sued Google in October 2020 after a year-long investigation into Google’s various anti-competitive tactics to maintain monopoly status over competitors.

About the Author

Headshot of McKenzie Carpenter

McKenzie Carpenter is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Integrative Public Relations and French. McKenzie has previously worked for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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