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EU fines Google a record $5 billion over Android system

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaks at a press conference at the EU headquarters in Brussels on July 18, 2018. (AFP photo)

The European Union has fined US internet giant Google with a record $5 billion (4.34 billion euros) for abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system, which is by far the most popular smartphone OS in the world.

The EU ruling, announced on Wednesday, could spark new trade tensions between Brussels and Washington.

The European Commission, the EU's executive body ordered Google to put an end to illegal conduct within 90 days, or else pay the $5 billion fine.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that Google went against EU rules when it required mobile phone producers to pre-install Google search and browser apps as a condition for licensing Google’s app store.

Vestager said Google also paid big producers to exclusively pre-install the Google search app. She said that “companies must compete on their merits and not restrict competition.”

Google has previously denied these accusations and said it would appeal the new ruling.

The company said that instead of restricting competition, it did the opposite. “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition,” Google spokesman Al Verney said.

The EU’s fine is the biggest ever imposed on a company for anticompetitive behavior.

Google, which is based in Menlo Park, California, was purchased in 2015 by Alphabet Inc., an American multinational conglomerate.

The EU fine represents just over two weeks of revenue for Alphabet Inc.

Last year, the bloc slapped Google with a $2.7 billion fine for favoring its shopping service over competitors.

Trade tensions between the EU and the United States have been rising in recent months after US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports coming from the EU and other US allies.

Trump threatened the EU he would impose tariffs on European cars if the bloc retaliates.

During an interview with CBS News on Sunday in Scotland, Trump said the EU is a "foe" of the United States because the bloc is "taking advantage" of America in trade.

The Trump administration argues that the enormous flows of imports to the US were putting in jeopardy America’s national security, making an odd departure from a decades-long US-led move towards open and free trade.

Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and a global climate change accord have also fueled tensions.

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