Google fined Rs 136 crore by Competition Commission of India

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It was alleged that Google indulged in abuse of its dominant position in online search through practices leading to search bias and search manipulation among others

The Competition Commission of India (CCI), the country’s antitrust watchdog, has fined Google 1.36bn rupees (£15.3m) for abusing its dominant position, the latest in a string of regulatory steps various governments have taken to limit the search giant’s power. “The competitors were denied access to the online search syndication services market due to such a conduct”.

Complaints in India were lodged against Google in 2012, including by online matrimonial site Bharat Matrimony and the nonprofit consumer protection group Consumer Unity and Trust Society. Google’s spokesperson said the CCI order had found in its favour for most of the issues examined, barring a few. “However, the actual amount, a mere Rs. 135.86 crores, is a surprise”, said Naval Satarawala Chopra of Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co which represented Matrimony.com, a popular matrimonial website. “In fact, the CCI has expressed dismay at the way in which Google provided its turnover figure which raises questions on its veracity”, Chopra said.

ET was first to report CCI’s probe against Google in August 2015.

The statement continued, “Further, prohibitions imposed under the negotiated search intermediation agreements upon the publishers have been held to be unfair as they restricted the choice of these partners and prevented them from using the search services provided by competing search engines”. Thanks to its dominant position in the internet search industry; Google is no stranger to antitrust laws aimed at monopolistic practices. The CCI provided an example of Google’s search bias stating that when users searched for flights, they were directed towards Google’s own flight search page, which the CCI believes disadvantages other businesses trying to gain market access. “Google is an innovative company which offers pioneering products”. He further said, “We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users”. A Google spokesperson has said the company is reviewing the “narrow concerns” that the Commission has identified and will assess its next steps.

Past year in a similar case, the European Union’s anti-trust arm fined Google $2.7 billion for promoting its own products over others in what should have been a “universal” search.

The CCI says its investigation found that Google placed its commercial flight search function on its own flight search page, thereby directing web users to its search results page rather than other smaller competitors’ page.

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