Indian watchdog fines Google £15.3m for “search bias”

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Google has been fined more than $21 million in India for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position, competition regulators said Thursday.

“CCI further observed in its order that Google, being the gateway to the internet for a vast majority of internet users due to its dominance in the online web search market, is under an obligation to discharge its special responsibility”, the statement said. The ruling follows complaints filed by Matrimony.com and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in 2012 against Google LLC, Google India (Pvt) Ltd and Google Ireland Ltd.

Udit Singh Ahlawat, managing partner of Ahlawat and Associates, a Delhi-based law firm said, “they obviously have the right to appeal against the order”.

However, Chopra was shocked by the small amount of the fine imposed on the search giant, which is equal to about 5% of Google’s average annual revenues in India. 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. The call is because about 99 percent of Google’s own shopping search ads are still displaying with shopping search results.

An unidentified Google spokesperson told that the company was reviewing the order imposed by the CCI. Its (CCI) investigation report finding Google to be dominant and to have abused its dominance preceded that of any authority. “Google was leveraging its domanance in the market for online general web search to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services”. Thanks to its dominant position in the internet search industry; Google is no stranger to antitrust laws aimed at monopolistic practices.

According to TOI, a Google spokesperson said, “We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users”.

“The CCI has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws”.

This is, however, not the first time Google was fined for abuse of its dominance in the search engine market.

A year ago 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. They also led a review of the company’s others services, including search design, online distribution agreements, and AdWords, but found no other violations.

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