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Google faces antitrust probe in Japan over search practices

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

Japan's competition watchdog is looking into Google for alleged antitrust law violations in search practices.

The tech giant is scrutinized for reported agreements with Android smartphone makers to share search ad-related revenue.

The Japan Fair Trade Commission’s probe examines whether such deals were under the condition that manufacturers do not install a rival search engine

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The regulator is also investigating whether Google services receive preferential treatment on Android devices. 

The Japan FTC has solicited third-party opinions as part of the probe, with submissions due by November 22nd.

Google defended itself by saying Android is an “open-source platform that has enabled a diversity” in partners and device manufacturers

A Google spokesperson said: “Its openness and flexibility ensure that users always have a choice to customize their devices to suit their needs, including the way they browse and search the internet, or download apps.”

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Google's Android operating system holds a dominant position, having an approximately 80 percent market share of smartphones worldwide. 

However, some of its business practices related to Android have drawn scrutiny from regulators across the globe. 

In 2018, the European Union imposed a record €4.34 billion ($4.6 billion) fine on Google for abusing Android's dominance. 

The EU alleged that Google unfairly promoted its services by obliging smartphone makers to pre-install Google apps Chrome and Search alongside its app store, Google Play. 

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Although an EU court slightly reduced the fine following Google's appeal, it broadly upheld the regulators' findings.

Meanwhile, in an ongoing trial initiated last month, the US Department of Justice has accused Google of violating antitrust laws.

The company allegedly made exclusive deals with mobile phone makers and browser developers, establishing its search engine as the default choice for consumers. 

This legal proceeding is considered one of the most significant tech antitrust trials in the US in decades.

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