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Photo: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

The EU has imposed a record $5 billion fine on Google for its Android business practices — but the biggest impact is likely to come with new rules for how the company does business.

At issue: Historically, Google has required Android device makers that offer its Google Play app store to pre-install Google’s own applications. That’s the biggest of a variety of practices the EU says Google uses to maintain its dominance.

The penalty:

  • The $5 billion penalty (4.3 billion euros) is higher than the 2.4 billion euro fine that EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager hit Google with in a previous case about online comparison shopping.
  • Google now has 90 days to end its “illegal conduct.” But the company says it intends to appeal the decision.

Why it matters: Looking back to the Microsoft antitrust case 20 years ago, the fines were the least of the firm’s issues. More troublesome for Microsoft were specific conduct remedies the EU ordered, such as forcing Microsoft to allow PC buyers there to choose a rival browser.

  • But the biggest impact was the change in thinking that its antitrust ordeal forced upon Microsoft, which heavily weighed future business decisions based on how they might be viewed by regulators in both the U.S. and Europe.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s take: “The decision ignores the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones…It also misses just how much choice Android provides” to phone makers, app developers and consumers.

Beyond Mountain View: Google has been hit hard in Europe. So far, however, both Facebook and Amazon have avoided this level of scrutiny, despite growing fears about their power.

What's next: We'll be watching whether this move widens the gap between Brussels and Washington, where antitrust enforcers have thus far been wary of taking on Big Tech. We’ll also watch how it plays out in the larger picture of EU-U.S. tensions provoked by the Trump administration’s trade moves and rhetoric.

Go deeper: Axios’ Sara Fischer has more on the EU’s move against Google.

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.