US authorities began an antitrust investigation into how Google's search engine system operates, Bloomberg reports — citing its own sources. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), along with the US Department of Justice, suspect Google of creating openings for its own service offerings on Android OS devices, while setting hurdles for competing services.
Bloomberg's sources clarify this inquiry is still in its early stages – and moreover is unlikely to result in any indictments for the search engine titan. Even so, it has offered the FTC a further chance to put one of the USA's largest corporations under the microscope – despite having closed its investigations into Google's search engine operations two years ago, says Bloomberg. The FTC investigated Google's operations in 2013, following allegations that the company abused its dominant position among search engine providers. Google subsequently back-pedaled — and the Commission resolved not to proceed with the charges.
2013 also saw similar inquiries made into Google's operations in Europe. The European Commission launches investigations based on a joint action by the Fair Search Alliance – which includes names such as Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, Expedia, TripAdviser and some others.
However, the only jurisdiction in which Google has been found in breach of anti-monopoly legislation is Russia. In mid-September the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) concluded that both Google Inc and Google Ireland had breached Section One of Article 10 of Russia's Anti-Monopoly laws. The FAS found Google to have jockeyed the market in software stores — preventing manufacturers of Android devices from pre-installing the Google Play Store, unless producers agreed to a series of pre-conditions. These included mandatory requirements that device manufacturers also pre-install other Google applications – such as Search – as defaults. The Russian FAS ordered Google to remedy these breaches. Moreover, the US parent division of Google is expected to be served with fines of between 1% and 15% of the company's turnover in those markets where the infractions occurred.
The FAS pursued its case against Google in March 2015, following complaints by Russian search-engine giant Yandex. The Russian corporation claimed Google compels Android device manufacturers to back-off from installing apps which compete with American products – particularly apps produced by Yandex. In 2014 three manufacturers of Android-based mobile phones in turn – Fly, Explay, and Prestigio – refused to pre-install Yandex software on their Russian-sold phones — claiming their contracts with Google prevented them from doing so. The American corporation insists that smartphone owners are free to download any software they choose.