最有看点的互联网金融门户

最有看点的互联网金融门户
其他国际资讯

《纽约时报》:欧盟为何对谷歌开出巨额罚款?

本周三,欧洲当局加大了对硅谷的限制力度,对谷歌处以51亿美元的罚款,因为其滥用在手机市场的影响力。这笔天价反垄断罚款是针对美国科技公司的最严厉的监管举措之一。

欧盟去年就因为谷歌在互联网搜索结果中给出不公平的搜索排名而对其罚款24亿欧元。而此次的43.4亿欧元的罚款总额远超过了去年,相差约28亿欧元。这笔新罚单显示出欧洲当局正积极推动对科技公司进行监管,其中涉及到反垄断、泄露隐私、税收问题以及错误信息和恶意言论传播等方面。

这一裁决打击了谷歌商业模式的核心部分:如果三星和华为等手机制造商同意优先在手机中优先置入 Google搜索栏、Chrome浏览器和其他谷歌的应用,才同意给这些手机制造商提供Android操作系统。

除了受到巨额罚款外,谷歌还必须将Android系统服务与在欧洲的其他服务脱钩,这可能会使公司失去部分用户和广告收入。

欧洲反垄断负责人Margrethe Vestager表示:“谷歌将Android系统作为一种工具,以巩固其搜索引擎的主导地位。”“这些做法让竞争对手失去了创新和竞争的机会。他们使欧洲消费者不能享受到手机领域充分竞争所带来的好处。这是违反欧盟反托拉斯法的。”

她说,本次罚款“反映了谷歌行动的严重性和持续性”。

欧洲的监管机构已经采用了严格的新隐私规定,其他国家也开始纷纷效仿。这里的官员还调查了科技公司的税务问题,呼吁在人工智能领域进行更严格的审查,并以更严格的措施要求社交媒体公司有力地打击虚假新闻和极端主义内容。

根据周三宣布的裁决,谷歌有90天的时间来结束反竞争行为。如果不能做到这一点,它将面临相当于其母公司Alphabet公司全球平均日收入的5%的罚款。

谷歌表示将对这一裁决提出上诉,此案可能会持续数年。在法律程序展开的过程中,公司必须将资金存入一个企业财产账户。如果它最终败诉,罚款所得将会在欧盟成员国之间分配。

这起案件与21世纪初微软的行动有相似之处。当时,微软在个人电脑市场上利用自己的优势打击对手,因而在欧洲受到了严厉惩罚。当时谷歌作为一个后起的公司,也在抱怨微软的做法。

那项酝酿已久的裁决是在一个政治敏感时期达成的,欧洲和美国自那以后开始了一场不断升级的贸易冲突,双方对酒精、铝等一系列产品互相征收关税。上周,在对布鲁塞尔的一次访问中,唐纳德特朗普总统重申了他的不满,即美国企业在欧洲处于不利地位。欧盟执行机构——欧盟委员会主席Jean-Claude Juncker将于下周访问华盛顿,与特朗普进行会谈。

鉴于欧洲只是在单方面采取针对硅谷巨头的监管行动,周三的裁决可能不会有什么大效果。美国的立法者和监管者大多采取了不干涉的方式,允许大型科技公司扩大他们的影响力,尽管最近有迹象表明,美国国会的态度正在转变,立场更加强硬。

谷歌的服务仍然深受客户欢迎,其股价、利润和收入持续飙升。在欧盟委员会进行调查的3年里,Alphabet的年营收从750亿美元增长到1110亿美元。根据IDC公司的研究数据,谷歌进一步加强了其在手机市场的主导地位,去年全球有超过12.5亿的Android手机销售。

欧盟对谷歌的指控一事突显出监管机构在监管数字化经济方面面临的诸多挑战。在当局意识到问题仔细审查一个领域时,市场又在前进了。

“竞争法对快速发展的市场最重要,”律师事务所Paul Weiss的合伙人、前联邦贸易委员会反垄断调查员Jonathan Kanter说。但是,“你处理的很多年以前的案件都是在打老仗,而不是为下一个做准备。”

最终,罚款的长期影响很可能被淡化,因为谷歌会因此对Android做出相应的改变以应对该案件。

长期以来,该公司一直将Android操作系统描述为一个开源平台,硬件制造商可以根据自己的需要使用和适应这个平台。但欧盟委员会表示,该系统附带了一些附加条件。

附加条件就是,Google要求手机制造商同意在搭载Android平台的设备中,将谷歌搜索和Chrome设为默认服务,这样才能获取最新版本的Android系统。作为裁决的一部分,欧盟委员会要求谷歌终止相关政策。

此外,反垄断官员还表示,谷歌必须停止向手机制造商和无线运营商提供财务激励,以确定其服务在手机中优先置入。并且要求谷歌不能再要求制造商签署协议,不出售带有不包括谷歌应用的修改版Android的设备。

当局表示,实际上,谷歌一直在与智能手机市场的公司进行谈判。因为这个市场已经饱和,这些公司的利润率很低,所以无力拒绝相关条款。

谷歌的竞争对手对这一裁决表示非常欢迎。专注于保护隐私的搜索引擎DuckDuckGo的首席执行官Gabriel Weinberg在接受采访时表示,手机制造商受与谷歌签订条款的限制,使其竞争非常具有挑战性。“我们希望美国最终也会效仿欧盟的做法。”

谷歌辩称,欧洲的裁决是对其基于广告的商业模式的攻击。谷歌公司表示,它要求手机制造商使用其应用软件套件,是作为其用于制造Android系统的数十亿美元的补偿。Google表示,这样的做法使手机制造商通过制造各种款式和各种价位的手机和平板电脑,能与苹果的iphone和ipad竞争,而谷歌则通过为其提供服务赚钱。

谷歌首席执行官Sundar Pichai在一份声明中表示,这一裁决“忽略了Android为成千上万手机制造和移动网络运营商提供了更多选择;忽略了Android为世界各地数以百万计的应用开发者提供了更多选择;也忽略了Android为数十亿的消费者提供了更多选择,他们现在可以买得起并使用上先进的Android智能手机。”

European authorities fined Google a record $5.1 billion on Wednesday for abusing its power in the mobile phone market and ordered the company to alter its practices, in one of the most aggressive regulatory actions against American technology giants and one that may force lasting changes to smartphones.

The European Union’s antitrust fine of 4.34 billion euros was almost double the bloc’s fine against Google last year over the company’s unfair favoring of its own services in internet search results. The penalty’s size highlighted Europe’s increasingly bold stance against the power of American tech firms, even as officials in the United States have taken a largely hands-off approach to the companies.

The fine was coupled with remedies that would effectively loosen Google’s grip over its Android software, which is used in 80 percent of the world’s smartphones and is a key part of the Silicon Valley company’s business. Those changes, which European regulators ordered to take effect in 90 days, undercut Google’s ability to automatically include its own search and other apps in mobile devices, opening it to more competition in a market that it has dominated.

“Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine,” said Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s antitrust chief. “These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere.”

The size of the fine, she added, “reflects the seriousness and the sustained nature” of Google’s actions.

Google said it would appeal the decision, and the case is very likely to drag on for years. The company must deposit the fine in a holding account while the legal process unfolds. If Google ultimately loses an appeal, the money will be distributed among the European Union’s member states.

Regardless of an appeal, if Google does not start altering its mobile phone practices in 90 days, it faces penalties of up to 5 percent of the worldwide average daily revenue of its parent company, Alphabet.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, said on Twitter that “rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition.”

“Android has enabled this and created more choice for everyone, not less,” he added.

The long-anticipated ruling arrived at a politically delicate period, with Europe and the United States engaged in an escalating trade conflict in which both sides have imposed tariffs on an array of products, from alcohol to aluminum. Last week, on a trip to Brussels, President Trump reiterated his complaints that American businesses were at a disadvantage in Europe. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, is to visit Washington next week for talks with Mr. Trump.

The severity of the decision against Google was in keeping with Europe’s aggressive curtailment of American tech companies in areas including privacy, antitrust and taxes. European regulators have already adopted tough new privacy rules that countries elsewhere are beginning to use as a template. Officials here have also investigated tech companies’ tax practices, called for closer scrutiny of artificial intelligence and added strict measures requiring social media companies to more forcefully combat false news and extremist content.

Yet the ultimate effect of Wednesday’s ruling may be muted given that Europe has largely acted alone in its regulatory actions against Silicon Valley titans, though there have been signs recently of shifting attitudes and a tougher stance by officials in the United States.

At a congressional hearing on Wednesday, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Joseph Simons, said that the mobile-software market was concentrated and that he spoke with Ms. Vestager on Tuesday.

“Let me just say we’re going to read what the E.U. put out very closely,” Mr. Simons said. “We’re very interested in what they’re doing.”

The European Commission left Google to come up with its own ways to comply with the decision, an approach that critics said gave the company room to soften the blow. Competitors said that after Google was fined €2.4 billion, or $2.7 billion, in an antitrust case last year for favoring its comparison-shopping service in search results, the company sidestepped the rules. Google has appealed that decision.

“Getting a good headline and a big fine is one thing. Fixing the market is quite another,” said Richard Stables, the chief executive of Kelkoo, a comparison-shopping site that has filed complaints against Google to regulators.

Google’s services remain immensely popular, and its stock price, profits and revenue continue to soar. Since the European Commission began investigating Android three years ago, annual revenue for Alphabet has grown to $111 billion from $75 billion. Google has also strengthened its dominance in the mobile phone market, with more than 1.25 billion Android handsets sold globally last year, according to the research firm IDC.

The case underscores the broader challenge regulators face in overseeing the digital economy. By the time the authorities home in on an area deserving of scrutiny, the market may have moved on.

“Fast-moving markets are where competition law is most important,” said Jonathan Kanter, a partner at the law firm Paul Weiss and a former antitrust investigator for the Federal Trade Commission, who has worked for Google competitors including Yelp. But “when you have cases that are many years old, you’re fighting old battles instead of the next one.”

At the heart of the European Commission’s case was the question of whether Google had abused its power by forcing handset makers like Samsung, Huawei and HTC to make its Google Search and Chrome browser the default services on Android-based devices in order to gain access to other Google apps.

While Google gives Android away to handset makers, those companies must effectively pre-install 11 Google apps on their devices, giving Google’s products far greater reach and more users to click on its ads. The strategy has enabled Google to reach more than a billion monthly users for six products: search, maps, Gmail, YouTube, the Chrome internet browser, and the Google Play app and media store.

Now the European authorities are ordering Google to stop tying Google Search and Chrome to the Google Play store. In addition, antitrust officials said Google must stop providing financial incentives to handset makers and wireless carriers to favor its services, a practice the company stopped in 2014.

In another remedy, European officials ordered that Google must allow handset manufacturers to create their own versions of Android software, otherwise known as “forks.” Google had previously discouraged the rise of competing smartphone software based on Android by blocking manufacturers’ access to Google apps if they built devices using any alternative versions.

The case has parallels to a similarly significant action against Microsoft in the 2000s, when it was heavily penalized in Europe and the United States for using its power in the personal computer market to bundle in its own internet browser, boxing out its rivals. At the time, Google, a young upstart, was among those to complain about Microsoft’s practices.

Some Google rivals cheered Wednesday’s decision. Locking handset makers into deals with Google made it “very challenging to compete,” Gabriel Weinberg, chief executive of DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine, said in an interview. “We would hope the U.S. would ultimately follow suit and take another look at this.”

But handset makers may continue to pre-install Google’s Chrome and Search because consumers like them — or because Google pays them to do it.

“The reality is there are not that many other players that can compete, so in some ways, I think the E.U. is fighting a battle that’s already over,” said Ben Schachter, a technology analyst at Macquarie Securities.

Google could ultimately decide to charge handset makers for using Android in Europe, a policy shift that could drive up the prices of some handsets.

Google argued that the European decision was an attack on its ad-based business model. The company said it required handset makers to use its suite of apps as a way of recouping the billions of dollars it spends to make Android. The arrangement, the company said, lets manufacturers compete with Apple’s iPhones and iPads, by making phones and tablets of various designs and prices, while Google makes money through its services.

Mr. Kanter, the lawyer, said that although Google had largely won the battle to embed Android into smartphones, Wednesday’s ruling could limit how the company approached new areas where the software was being used, including automobiles and internet-connected home electronics.

The regulatory push in Europe might also influence others around the world to take a tougher look at Silicon Valley, he added.

“To say that any single action by the European Commission is going to stop them is probably na?ve,” Mr. Kanter said. “But movements have to start somewhere, and good, strong, persistent, decisive action can over time have an effect.”

用微信扫描可以分享至好友和朋友圈

扫描二维码或搜索微信号“iweiyangx”
关注未央网官方微信公众号,获取互联网金融领域前沿资讯。

发表评论

发表评论

您的评论提交后会进行审核,审核通过的留言会展示在下方留言区域,请耐心等待。

评论

您的个人信息不会被公开,请放心填写! 标记为的是必填项

取消

比特币创企Veem再获2500万美元融资,高盛参投

Wilma Woo | 巴比特资讯 09-28

谷歌将部分解除加密货币广告禁令

Jillian D'... | 巴比特资讯 09-26

反转了?谷歌添加BTC价格搜索,Facebook撤广告禁令

Sead Fadil... 07-25

谷歌、微软等巨头联合推出数据传输项目

Josh Const... | TECH CRUNC... 07-23

硅谷巨头纷纷加码,“金矿”保险业会因科技介入被颠覆吗?

Martha Not... 07-16

版权所有 © 清华大学五道口金融学院互联网金融实验室 | 京ICP备17044750号-1