Google was fined by the European Commission a record 4.34 billion euros for breaking the antitrust law. The internet giant was accused of bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the Android operating system.
Apart from Google, several leading tech firms — including Apple, Facebook and Microsoft — have been accused in the past of breaching market completion rules in different parts of the world. And most of them have ended up being hit with enormous fines.
While they are penalized for violating competition rules, I believe the big fines are as much about trade protectionism.
Countries around the around are increasingly using different measures to protect their own exporters, apart from imposing tariff on imports.
US sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant ZTE and the company’s agreement to employ a special compliance coordinator and a team of assistants at its expense for a period of 10 years in a settlement with US Department of Commerce, is a case in point.
Meanwhile, as the General Data Protection Regulation has taken effect in the European Union, companies might face hefty fines if they violate the rule when collecting consumers’ information.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 26
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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