1. Business
  2. Politics and policy
September 28, 2018

Belgium to sue Google as Europe gets tough on US tech giants

By Priya Kantaria

Belgium’s Ministry of Defence plans to sue Google for failing to act on its requests to blur satellite images of military sites.

The ministry asked for air bases and nuclear power stations to be made indistinct on Google satellite maps because of national security concerns.

A spokeswomen said: “The Ministry of Defence will sue Google,” earlier today, but gave no further details.

Other governments have had similar concerns over geomapping and granular street-level views by Google in the past, but the search engine giant acted on those concerns.

EU’s recent action against Google over anti-trust breaches

The European Union handed down a $5bn fine against Google in July over a breach of monopoly rules concerning the tech giant’s Android smartphone operating system.

Google was forcing manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google Chrome apps on devices running Android.

In a further violation of antitrust rules, Google had stopped manufacturers form selling devices that used operating systems based on the Android open source code.

It also gave incentives to manufacturers who agreed to pre-install the Google Search app on their devices and only allowed access to services like the Google Play Store if manufacturers agreed to its demands.

The EU said Google was wielding its power unfairly to stop competition.

The $5bn fine was the largest antitrust fine ever made by the regulator against a single firm.

Google’s general counsel in the case said: “Android hasn’t hurt competition, it’s expanded it.”

EU’s war on Silicon Valley’s tech giants

In 2017 Google was handed a $2.8bn (€2.4bn) fine by the European Commission for its price comparison service, Google Shopping.

The commission claimed Google was unfairly promoting its price comparison results on Google Search, denying competition from rival websites.

The European Commission also recently ordered Apple to pay $15bn in unpaid taxes to the Irish Government. It also delivered a fine against Facebook for $122m for misleading antitrust officials during its purchase of WhatsApp.