- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Google has been given a Nov. 18 deadline to make changes to the way its Android operating system comes preconfigured for users in Russia before regulators in the Kremlin begin lobbing hefty fines at the tech titan in accordance with a recent antitrust ruling.

Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service officially handed out the ultimatum on Monday, three weeks after government regulators said the Mountain View, California, company had ran afoul of a “Protection of Competition” provision because mobile devices that use its Android OS favor Google-owned services such as Maps, YouTube, Gmail and its namesake search engine by default.

Amid a struggle for market dominance between Google and Russia’s own Yandex search engine, FAS said on Sept. 14 that the American company had violated an anti-monopoly law by requiring vendors of mobile devices running Android to preinstall Google apps and give “mandatory priority positioning” to its flagship search engine.

“To restore competition on the market, Google should amend agreements with mobile-device producers within a month and exclude the anti-competitive clauses,” FAS said in a statement.

Yandex said in a statement of its own that it was “satisfied” with the ruling and would fight any attempts from Google to appeal the decision.

“We hope that the FAS’s ruling will help to restore fair competition on the market, but to what extent will depend on how this ruling will be executed. Additional measures might have to be taken unless the situation changes. What would solve the problem, as we see it, is an opportunity for users to choose service provider right when they are setting up a new device,” Yandex said in a statement.

If Google doesn’t unbundle its own apps from Android devices by Nov. 18, government regulators may impose a fine on the company amounting to anywhere from 1 percent to 15 percent of its 2014 revenue in Russia, the FAS announced Monday this week. Bloomberg Business reported that the damage could equate to as much as $10 million a year.

The following day, President Vladimir Putin signed into law an update to federal antitrust legislation that would disqualify repeat offenders of Russia’s “On Protection of Competition” rules from doing business. 

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the media following Monday’s announcement.

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