Japan Investigation on Google For Antitrust Violations
Japan's competition regulator has said it is investigating Google's parent company Alphabet for a suspected violation of the country's Antimonopoly Act.
The investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission will consist of two parts — an examination into whether Google shared search related ad revenue with Android phone makers in return for manufacturers not pre-installing competitors search applications, and a look into whether Google services in general are being prioritized by Android devices.
“Google has been suspected to exclude business activities of its competitors or restrict business activities of its counterparties,” a press release announcing the investigation read.
As part of the investigation, the regulator has requested that interested third parties submit their opinions by November 22.
In response to the announcement, Google stressed that Android is an open-source platform. “Its openness and flexibility ensure that users always have a choice to customize their devices to suit their needs, including the way they browse and search the internet, or download apps,” Google said in a statement sent in response to a request for comment.
“We have continued to work closely with government agencies to demonstrate how we are supporting the Android ecosystem and expanding user choice in Japan. We will continue to collaborate with the government and industry partners throughout this process,” Google said.
Japan is not the only country where Google is currently under investigation regarding alleged anticompetitive practices.
In the EU, Google is seeking to overturn a €2.4 billion ($2.6 billion) fine imposed by the European Union in 2017 after it found the company had violated antitrust rules by using its dominant position in the search engine market to illegally promote its comparison shopping service.
The search engine giant was also found to be in breach of EU regulations with regards to its Android mobile operating system — a case in which Google lost an appeal last year — and its AdSense advertising service. As a result of the AdSense case, EU regulators earlier this year issued a threat that they would try to break up the company if Google did not attempt to regulate its behavior.
Perhaps more pressing for the company are two major antitrust lawsuits Google is fighting in the US.
In the first, which is currently being tried in court, the US government has alleged that the company manipulated the market to maintain a search dominance, to the exclusion of its competitors and the detriment of the public at large. Witnesses for both the defense and prosecution have been called, including including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Eddy Cue senior vice president of services at Apple.
A trial focusing on the company's advertising practices is scheduled for next year.