Not OK, Google! FTC urged to thrust antitrust probe into Android

Google could feel heat stateside after Europe laid down the law

Advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is calling on the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to follow the European Union's lead and bring antitrust charges against Google Android.

The group said that following the European Commission's statement of objections this week against the Chocolate Factory, it would like to see the FTC put forward a similar case of Google's handling of Android and the mobile operating system's application stores.

Google has said it looks forward to working with the European Commission to resolve the matter. Like the EC, Consumer Watchdog lobs three specific claims at Google-parent Alphabet related to the Android ecosystem, of which it has monopoly control:

  • The bundling of search
  • Freezing out third-party apps
  • Discouraging handset makers from offering phones with forked versions of the Android OS

Specifically, Consumer Watchdog noted EC charges that Android locks out non-Google search and browsers by forcing vendors to pre-install Google Search and Chrome in order to access the Play Store.

The group also points to EC concerns that Google prevents competing forks, such as CyanogenMod, from getting deals with handset vendors via exclusivity contracts, and also uses those deals to freeze out any competitors to Google Search from being bundled.

The advocacy group goes on to prod the FTC to re-open the monopoly abuse case it closed last year without filing any charges, despite finding evidence of violation.

"Google engages in exactly the same anti-competitive, unfair and abusive practices in the United States," said Consumer Watchdog privacy project director John Simpson.

"Our antitrust enforcers need to step up and do their job instead of letting the Europeans do it for them."

Consumer Watchdog went on to suggest that the FTC's decision not to bring forth charges in 2015 was related in part to the millions of dollars Google put into lobbying the commission. Now, with the EU taking action, the group hopes that the US anti-trust bod will reconsider its stance.

"Google is well connected at the highest levels of government and throws its money around," Simpson charges.

"But our antitrust enforcers can't let that sway them. They've got the facts and need to act." ®


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