After the European Commission’s record-busting EUR 4.34 billion fine on July 18th, 2018, Google has taken another regulatory hit on September 19th, 2018 as the Turkish Competition Board imposes an administrative fine of TRY 93,083,422.30 (approximately USD 15 million) against Google Turkey for its practices violating Law No. 4054.
Evaluating all collected evidence, along with the case-handlers’ report, written defenses, and explanations set forth in the August 28th oral hearing, it is unanimously resolved through Decision 18-33/555-273 that:
1. Google enjoys a dominant position in the market for licensable mobile operating systems;
2. Google abused its dominant position in the relevant market and violated Article 6 of Law No. 4054 through its agreements signed with mobile device manufacturers whereby;
• Google’s search engine application (Google Search) and system component allowing apps to display web content (Google Webview) are required to be exclusively pre-installed and set as default;
• Google Search’s application image is required to be pre-positioned on the main screen of mobile devices;
3. An administrative monetary fine shall be imposed on Google in the amount of TRY 93,083,422.30;
4. In order to eliminate competitive concerns that may emerge in the future, the Presidency of the Turkish Competition Authority shall be assigned to deliver an opinion letter to Google, stating that it must insert an explicit clause to its Mobile Application Distribution Agreements with device manufacturers whereby pre-installation of the other applications rival to Google shall not be prevented;
5. In order to cease the violation and establish competition in the market, Google shall perform the legal obligations provided below:
• In its agreements with device manufacturers willing to use the Commercial Android Operating System in the mobile devices manufactured for sales to Turkey, Google shall;
› Remove from the scope of the agreements the exclusive pre-installation, pre-positioning, and default clauses inuring to the benefit of Google Search that are stipulated for licensing;
› Eliminate all conditions from and insert no new clauses to the agreements that are stipulated for licensing and that require Google Search to be pre-installed and set as default;
› Remove from the scope of the agreements the exclusive pre-installation and default clauses for Google Webview that are stipulated for licensing and that require the application to be set as default and pre-installed as an exclusive in-app web browser;
› Grant no fiscal incentives that may lead to the same results prohibited by the three obligations specified above;
• The Income Sharing Agreements being in the first place, Google shall remove from the scope of all of its agreements with device manufacturers any obligations forbidding the pre-installation and use of the other products rival to Google Search;
6. Google shall provide to the Turkish Competition Authority within 6 months as of the pronouncement of the reasoned decision the amendments to be made to the relevant agreements within the framework of the specified legal obligations.
This decision can be appealed before the Ankara Administrative Courts within 60 days upon the official service of the reasoned decision.
To remind, another full-blown antitrust investigation was launched by the Turkish Competition Authority against Google on August 3rd, 2018 following the European Commission’s recent blockbuster decision. This time to determine whether the tech-giant obstructed its competitors’ activities in the online shopping services market in Turkey by abusing its dominant position in the search engine market.
With one eye on the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s September 19th announcement of the fresh preliminary probe initiated against Amazon, and the other on Google, the increasing number of regulatory investigations in Turkey and around Europe may represent a growing challenge for big technolog y companies.