BRUSSELS: Google on Tuesday appealed the biggest ever anti-trust fine by the EU, which imposed a 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) penalty on the US tech giant for illegally abusing the dominance of its operating system for mobile devices.
In an email to AFP, Google spokesman Al Verney confirmed that “we have now filed our appeal of the European Commission’s Android decision at the General Court of the European Union.”
In its July decision, Brussels accused Google of using the Android system’s huge popularity on smartphones and tablets to promote the use of its own Google search engine and shut out rivals.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager ordered Google to “put an effective end to this conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments” of up to five percent of its average daily turnover.
The sanction nearly doubled the previous record EU antitrust fine of 2.4 billion euros, which also targeted Google, in that case for the Silicon Valley titan’s shopping comparison service in 2017.
Google provides Android free to smartphone manufacturers and generates most of its revenue from selling advertisements that appear along with search results.
But Vestager said Google had shut out rivals by forcing major phone makers including South Korea’s Samsung and China’s Huawei to pre-install its search engine and Google Chrome browser.
They were also made to set Google Search as the default, as a condition of licensing some Google apps. As a result, Google Search and Chrome are pre-installed on the “significant majority” of devices sold in the EU, the European Commission says.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai in July refuted the accusations arguing that the decision ignores the fact that Android phones compete with Apple phones that run on iOS with their own pre-installed apps.
The EU decision “rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less,” Pichai added in a blog post.
But according to industry tracker Gartner, Android dominated the smartphone market with a share of 85.9 percent last year, to around 14 percent for Apple’s iOS.
Some 1.3 billion Android smartphones were sold last year, compared with approximately 215 million running on iOS and 1.5 million with other operating systems, according to the research firm. The appeal could take years to snake its way through the EU court system.
Facebook says data breach affected 29 million users
Cyber attackers stole data from 29 million Facebook accounts using an automated program that moved from one friend to the next, Facebook Inc (FB.O) announced as the social media company said its largest-ever data theft hit fewer than the 50 million profiles it initially reported.
The company said it would message affected users over the coming days to tell them what type of information had been accessed in the attack.
The breach has left users more vulnerable to targeted phishing attacks and could deepen unease about posting to a service whose privacy, moderation and security practices have been called into question by a series of scandals, cybersecurity experts and financial analysts said.
The attackers took profile details such as birth dates, employers, education history, religious preference, types of devices used, pages followed and recent searches and location check-ins from 14 million users.
For the other 15 million users, the breach was restricted to name and contact details. In addition, attackers could see the posts and lists of friends and groups of about 400,000 users.
Lawmakers and investors have grown more concerned that Facebook is not doing enough to safeguard data. Facebook cut the number of affected users from its original estimate after investigators reviewed activity on accounts that may have been affected. Still, cybersecurity experts warned that attackers could use stolen information in targeted phishing scams.
Facebook said it was continuing to investigate whether the attackers took actions beyond stealing data, such as posting from accounts but had not found additional misuse. Hackers did not steal personal messages or financial data and did not use their access to accounts to access users’ accounts on other websites, Facebook said.
Jetliner lands in the US after world’s longest flight
NEW YORK: An Airbus jetliner arrived in Newark on Friday after a nearly 18-hour trip from Singapore, completing the world’s longest commercial flight.
It marked the revival of a route that had been eliminated in 2013. Singapore Airlines Flight SQ22 arrived at 5:29 am (0929 GMT), having left Singapore’s Changi airport at 11:23 pm, the Newark Liberty International Airport website said. That made for a flight of 17 hours and 52 minutes. The flight had been scheduled to take 18 hours and 25 minutes.
The plane was carrying 150 passengers and 17 crew members as it traveled 10,250 miles (16,500 kilometers). “I feel perfectly well rested,” said Kristopher Alladin, a 37-year-old Canadian. “I’m lucky because I’m able to sleep on the plane.” Flying from New York to Singapore would be a longer journey, lasting an estimated 18 hours and 45 minutes. The first flight in that direction took off from Newark at 11:10 am Friday.
Singapore Airlines only offers premium economy and business seats on the flight – no regular economy seats. “Although you’re in premium eco, you feel like you’re in first class,” said Alladin, adding that he had taken the same flight in 2008. “The flight was very smooth, very quiet.”
Air India jet hits wall on takeoff
NEW DELHI: Air India today grounded two pilots after one of its jets carrying 136 people hit an airport perimeter wall on takeoff and then flew for almost four hours with a damaged body, officials said.
The Boeing 737 suffered the damage as it left Trichy in southern India bound for Dubai. Officials at the airport in Tamil Nadu state “observed that aircraft might have come in contact with the airport perimeter wall,” said an Air India statement.
“The matter was conveyed to the pilot in command. The pilot in command reported that the aircraft systems were operating normally. It was decided to divert the aircraft to Mumbai as a precautionary measure.”
The jet landed in Mumbai four hours later and pictures of the damaged aircraft went viral on social media soon after it landed safely. The 130 passengers were moved to a new flight to Dubai.