Microsoft, Oracle take Google to task at EU over Android phones

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BRUSSELS – Google was in the firing line again Tuesday after a group of major companies, including Microsoft and Oracle, complained to the European Commission over its offerings for Android-powered mobile phones.

“We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel for FairSearch, which groups 17 high-tech companies, including also Nokia, Expedia and TripAdvisor.

“Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system,” Vinje said in a statement.

FairSearch said it had filed a complaint with the Commission, charging that the Internet giant wanted Android operators to use its leading applications such as Maps or YouTube.

It said Google’s Android is the dominant smartphone operating system, accounting for 70 percent at end-2012, while it had 96 percent of mobile phone search advertising.

The companies grouped in FairSearch have also complained about Google in the Commission’s 2010 anti-trust probe of the firm which has focused on its dominance of the Internet search market.

Last week, six European countries, including France and Britain, launched joint action against Google to try to get it to scale back new monitoring powers that watchdogs believe violate EU privacy protection rules.

Google last year rolled out a common user privacy policy for its services that grouped some 60 previous sets of rules into one and allowed the company to track users more closely to develop targeted advertising.

The action came after the European Union’s 27 member states warned Google in October not to apply the new policy and gave it four months to make changes or face legal action.

When that deadline expired in February, several European data protection agencies set up a task force to pursue coordinated action against the US giant.

Google has repeatedly maintained that its privacy policy respects European law.

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