Google fined in India for abusing dominant position

Competition Commission of India imposes Rs 135 crore penalty on Google for bias in search results

Google fined Rs 136 crore or $21.1 million for 'search bias' that broke antitrust law in India

In not a very welcome development for the global search engine, Competition Commission of India imposed a penalty of Rs 135.86 crore upon Google after finding that it abused its dominant position in online general web search and web search advertising services in India.

The ruling brings an end to an investigation which was launched by the watchdog in 2012, following complaints filed by matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony and the not-for-profit organization Consumer and Trust Society (CUTS).

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) focused on Google's commercial flight search function.

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"However, CCI did not find any contravention in respect of Google's specialized search design (OneBoxes), AdWords, online intermediation and distribution agreements", the watchdog said in its statement.

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The order to impose the hefty fine on Google was passed by a 4-2 majority by the CCI, which noted that the fine was imposed on the search giant "taking into account its revenue from its India operations only". The antitrust body ruled that the search engine result page was of Google's design, and as the dominant force in the web search field, the Mountain View, California-based tech giant was obligated to display search results without bias.

A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing the "narrow concerns" identified by the Commission and will assess its next steps. It noted in its order that product design is an important and integral dimension of competition, and undue intervention in designs of SERP can affect legitimate product improvements.

For the uninitiated, the CCI is responsible for making sure every corporation follows The Competition Act, 2002 throughout the country and dismisses any action which can potentially result in an adverse effect on competition. "Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service", the European Commission said in a statement.

Google will need to deposit the fine within 60 days, the Commission said.

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