Google fined Rs 135 cr for abusing market dominance


India's anti-trust watchdog February 8 fined US-based search giant Google (pdf) $1.36 billion rupee ($21 million), or about 5% of the average total revenue from its India operations, for "search bias".

The order was passed in response to information filed by Limited and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in 2012.

Even as Google has been embroiled in several antitrust cases across the world, this is only the second time it has been penalised for abusing its dominant position in a market.

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google, the core unit of US firm Alphabet Inc, was abusing its dominance in online web search and online search advertising markets.

The Google spokesperson said the company has always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of users.

The Competition Commission of India said in a statement that it was imposing a fine of 1.36 billion rupees ($21 million) on Google along with a warning to desist from unfair practices.

The complainants had argued that the technology company mixes results from YouTube, Google Maps and Google News into its organic search results, to promote these websites. "The Competition Commission of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws", the spokesman said.

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"We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next step", the company official said. "Google's strategy for its comparison- shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals", Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust chief, had said.

The CCI has ordered that the fine - which represents five percent of the average total revenue generated by Google from its Indian operations - be paid within 60 days.

"Whilst finding Google to have abused its dominant position, the CCI has nonetheless exercised restraint in recognising the dynamic nature of online markets and not found Google guilty of every allegation", Chopra told Reuters. "And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation", Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy had then said.

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