- The Washington Times - Friday, August 12, 2016

Russia’s antitrust regulators ordered Google to pay more than $6.8 million in penalties after finding the tech giant guilty of unfairly prioritizing its own services on Android devices sold within the country.

The Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) in Moscow announced the penalty Thursday, nearly one year after the watchdog determined Google violated a “Protection of Competition” provision by configuring Android devices to prefer Google-owned services including Maps, YouTube, Gmail and its flagship search engine by default.

In preventing Russian manufacturers from pre-installing their apps on Android devices, Google gave itself a powerful advantage in the mobile phone market, the regulators said. As a result of the ruling, FAS said in September that it intended to fine the company upwards of 15 percent of its domestic earnings.

Russian authorities declined this week to say exactly how it derived the $6.8 million penalty, but the figure represents only a fraction of Google’s $74.5 billion global annual earnings — or less than what the company makes in an hour, according to the website Recode.

Nonetheless, the decision will present “an opportunity for the development of competition in the mobile software market in Russia, which will benefit our customers,” FAS said in a statement.

“Competition law must be observed by all companies whose products are supplied to the Russian Federation — including multinational corporations,” added Elena Zaeva, the head of the the agency’s department for Regulation of Telecommunications and Information Technology.

Google’s press office said in a statement Thursday that the company is reviewing the fine and will analyze it closely before making its next step.

“In the meantime, we continue to talk to all invested parties to help consumers, device manufacturers and developers thrive on Android in Russia,” the statement said.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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