CCI slaps Rs 135.86 crore fine on Google for search bias
Mail Today Bureau February 9, 2018
Competition Commission of India on Thursday imposed a Rs 136 crore fine on Larry Page-led Google for unfair business practices in the country's online search market, the latest such penalty on the search engine. The order came on complaints filed back in 2012 by Matrimony.com and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) against Google LLC, Google India Pvt Ltd and Google Ireland Ltd. Google was accused of abusing its dominant position in the online search market through practices leading to search bias and search manipulation, among others.
The regulator said the penalty is being imposed on Google for infringing anti-trust conduct. "Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users," the CCI said in its order. The competition watchdog said it gave thoughtful consideration on the submissions made by Google on issue of penalty and found it appropriate to impose a fine.
The penalty amount of Rs 135.86 crore translates to 5 per cent 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.
CCI 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. 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.
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 shopping services "no less favorably" than its own.