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Google Loses Appeal Against Record EU Antitrust Fine

Google Loses Appeal Against Record EU Antitrust Fine

The European Union’s second-highest court on Wednesday overwhelmingly upheld the EU’s record fine against Google over its Android operating system for mobile phones, slightly reducing the fee for technical reasons.

In a statement, the EU’s General court said it “largely confirms the commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices” in order to benefit its search engine.

The court, however, said the fine should be slightly reduced to 4.125 billion euros ($4.1 billion), instead of the 4.3 billion euros decided by the commission in 2018 after reviewing the duration of the infringement.

The levy remains the EU’s biggest ever despite Google’s arguments that the commission’s case was unfounded and falsely relied on accusations it imposed its search engine and Chrome browser on Android phones.

The company also pushed the case that the EU was unfairly blind to the strength of Apple, which imposes or gives clear preference to its own services such as Safari on iPhones.

Google insisted that downloading rival apps was only a click away and that customers were in no way tied to Google products on Android.

The EU and complainants responded that Google used contracts with phone makers in the early days of Android to stifle rivals.

“This shows the European Commission got it right,” said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer representing FairSearch, whose original complaint launched the case in 2013.

“Google can no longer impose its will on phone makers. Now they may open their devices to competition in search and other services, allowing consumers to benefit from increased choice,” he added.

The decision by the General Court is not necessarily the end of the story. Both sides can turn to the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, for a final say on the fine, which was the equivalent of $5 billion when levied.

– Global action –

The Android case was the third of three major cases brought against Google by the EU’s competition czar Margrethe Vestager, whose legal challenges were the first worldwide to directly take on the Silicon Valley giants.

Since then, global regulators have followed suit, with Google facing a barrage of cases in the US and Asia based on similar accusations.

Last year, South Korea fined Google nearly $180 million for abusing its dominance in a similar case.

Vestager has already won against Google in its appeal of a separate case, a 2.4-billion-euro fine for the company for abusing its search engine dominance. As expected, the tech giant appealed that setback to the high court.

The EU, however, has lost recent cases involving the microchip industry.

Vestager’s team lost an appeal against a $1 billion fine imposed on Qualcomm in the same court in June.

That followed another setback in January when the EU lost the court’s backing for a 1.06-billion-euro fine on Intel.

Frustrated at the length of time it takes to pursue competition cases, Brussels has since adopted the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which puts a much tighter leash on the way Big Tech can do business.

The new law, set to come into force next year, would set up a rulebook of do’s and don’ts for Big Tech companies such as Google and Facebook.

The DMA includes specific bans or limits on Google, Apple and other gatekeepers from promoting their own services on platforms.

AFP

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Chief Of Defence Staff Says Military Under Pressure To Compromise 2023 Polls

The Nigerian military on Thursday revealed that despite the fact that it is facing constant pressure to compromise the 2023 elections, it will continue to be neutral.

General Lucky Irabor,  Chief of Defence Staff disclosed this to journalists at the 61st session of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

According the him, military personnel face pressure through inducements, but the armed forces would remain apolitical as it is taking the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the directive of the President Muhammadu Buhari  to maintain neutrality.

Irabor added that personnel are being trained to be more professional even as the rules of engagement have been codified for distribution before, during and after the elections.

The CDS also revealed that several military rescue operations and negotiations have led to the freeing of at least 300,000 people from the hands of their abductors since 2014 while refugees who fled the North-East due to insurgency, have started to return.

He said that former insurgents, now being trained, would graduate in February next year before their reintegration into the society. He added that the military is recruiting more personnel into all branches of the security services.

The goal, Irabor said, is to increase the number of on-the-ground personnel to combat insurgency and banditry and curtail oil theft which will eventually lead to increased crude oil production.

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ICPC Arraigns NSCDC Official Over N12m job Scam

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned a Superintendent of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Solomon Ogodo, over allegations bordering on forgery, employment racketeering, and fraud.

ICPC, in charge no: CR/503/2022 brought before Justice M.S. Idris of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, sitting in Jabi, Abuja, accused the defendant of defrauding unsuspecting job seekers the N12.2 million.

In the five-count charge, the commission told the court that the accused person on different occasions hoodwinked members of the public into parting with different sums of money in the guise of securing employment for their relatives in the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCoS).

The court was further informed of how Mr. Ogodo, with the intent to commit fraud, forged offers of provisional appointments for some applicants into the Nigeria Correctional Services.

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Okonjo Iweala Makes Forbes List Of World’s Most Powerful Women

A former Nigerian minister of finance and current Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been named one of Forbes’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2022.

Forbes, an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family, has a particular focus on business, technology, communications, science, politics, and law.

The African leadership person of the year awards are vote-based and reserved yearly for leading Africans who are making positive impacts and promoting a favourable image of the continent.

Okonjo-Iweala polled over 60 percent of the 15,000 votes in the category at the close of the poll on 2nd of December 2022.

Forbes said, “The World Trade Organization head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (No. 91 of 100) continue to play a crucial role in providing financial assistance and promoting global trade as the threat of a global recession rises.”

Recall that Okonjo-Iweala was recognized by another media platform, Time magazine as one of the world’s most influential people in 2021.

This would be Okonjo-Iweala’s 6th recognition in her career.

Okonjo-iweala reacted on Twitter, saying that she was excited by the awards she had received in her career.

“An honour and a privilege to be part of this list of a very distinguished group of women for the 6th time in my career, Congratulations to my other sisters. Let’s continue to show that good governance, good public policy and a people-centered approach to work matters,” he said.

Winners for the 11th edition of the award shall be presented with the honour on 16th of February 2023, at a ceremony scheduled to be held in Port Louis, Mauritius.

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