Friday, 9 February 2018

Competition Commission of India fines Google for search bias

CCI Google

The Competition Commission of India has fined Rs 135.86 crores to Google India for search bias.

The Competition Commission of India has found Google to have abused its dominant position in online web searches and web search advertising services in India. The complaint was filed by Limited and Consumer Unity & Trust Society in 2012 against Google India Pvt Ltd., Google Ireland and Google LLC.

The CCI order against Google noted that the changes made in Search Engine Research Page can affect legitimate product improvements and thus could give undue benefit to companies which can list first on a 'Google Search'. Google, being the most widely used search engine due to its dominance on web results, is under obligation to discharge its special responsibility. The regulator said the penalty is being imposed on Google due to infringement of anti-trust code.

The CCI has also observed that Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general web search, to strengthen the position in the market for online syndicate search services. The competitors were denied access to online search syndication services market due to such conduct. However, CCI did not find any contravention in respect of Google's specialized search design (OneBoxes). Adwords, online intermediation, and distribution agreements.

The penalty amount of Rs 135.86 crore translates to 5 percent of the company's average total revenue generated from India operations from its different business segments for the financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to the CCI order. The company will need to deposit the fine within 60 days, the commission said.

In June 2017, the European Union fined Google parent Alphabet a record $2.9 billion antitrust fine against the company for allegedly abusing the power of its dominant search engine. EU ordered the search engine to treat competing for shopping services "no less favorably" than its own.

- Chaitanya Kulkarni

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