India imposes $21 million fine on Google for search bias

10 February, 2018, 02:52 | Author: Darnell Patrick
  • CCI imposes Rs 136 cr fine on Google

India's competition regulator CCI (Comeptition Commission of India) imposed a fine of ₹136 crore ($21.17 million) on the tech giant Google for "search bias".

The ruling was prompted by a complaint filed in 2012 by Indian matchmaking website, Bharat Matrimony and a consumer protection group. This practice directly harms the competitors (start-ups the most) and is unfair to the consumers as well.

"The competitors were denied access to the online search syndication services market due to such a conduct", the CCI order said.

CCI found prominent display of Commercial Flight Unit by Google on Search Engine Result Page (SERP) with link to Google's specialised search options/ services (Flight) in contravention of the provisions of Section 4 (2)(a)(i) of the Act. This led to an investigation by anti-trust watchdog Competition Commission of India which issued a report in 2015 accusing Google of taking advantage of its dominant market position by skewing Internet search results in favor of its own businesses.

The ruling comes eight months after the USA tech giant was fined €2.4B by the European Commission for giving "an illegal advantage" to its comparison shopping service.

Founder and CEO Murugavel Janakiraman said, "The CCI's order is a shot in the arm for the Digital India initiative and will encourage the Indian internet ecosystem, in particular, online start-ups". The latest is by India and involves Google Search allegedly abusing its dominant position in the marketplace. The CCI (Competition Commission of India) has acknowledged the changing technological landscape, and does not see "search" as a free service.

The EC's antitrust watchdog objected to it systematically privileging its own shopping product in search results and also found that it had been demoting rival vertical search services in its general search results. Its effort to evolve along with the growing needs of the users is commendable, however, it is to be seen that the giant does not stifle the growing entrepreneurs.

"The CCI has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our product complies with Indian competition laws", the spokesperson said.



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