Google is back in the eye of the Federal Trade Commission, this time for its Android business, which has also been drawing scrutiny from government regulators around the world.
Regulators are investigating if Google is employing anticompetitive practices as its Android operating system dominates market share. Bloomberg Business reports:
Google Inc. is back under U.S. antitrust scrutiny as officials ask whether the tech giant stifled competitors’ access to its Android mobile-operating system, said two people familiar with the matter.
The Federal Trade Commission reached an agreement with the Justice Department to spearhead an investigation of Google’s Android business, the people said. FTC officials have met with technology company representatives who say Google gives priority to its own services on the Android platform, while restricting others, added the people, who asked for anonymity because the matter is confidential.
Earlier this month, Russian antitrust authority The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service ruled that the company mustn’t require device manufacturers using Android to pre-install Google services.
In April, the European Commission, which has been involved in a years-long investigation into Google’s search business, revealed that it had opened a new investigation into Android as well.
“Since 2005, Google has led development of the Android mobile operating system,” the Commission said at the time. “Android is an open-source system, meaning that it can be freely used and developed by anyone. The majority of smartphone and tablet manufacturers use the Android operating system in combination with a range of Google’s proprietary applications and services. These manufacturers enter into agreements with Google to obtain the right to install Google’s applications on their Android devices. The Commission’s in-depth investigation will focus on whether Google has breached EU antitrust rules by hindering the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems, applications and services to the detriment of consumers and developers of innovative services and products.”
“Smartphones, tablets and similar devices play an increasing role in many people’s daily lives and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anticompetitive constraints imposed by any company,” said EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager.
Google settled an antitrust case from the FTC related to its search business in early 2013. Many felt the company got off light on that one. Frequent Google critic Consumer Watchdog said the settlement failed to end Google’s “most anticompetitive practice”.
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