Google fined Rs 135.86 crore by CCI for 'search bias'

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a Rs 136-crore fine on Google for “search bias” and abusing its “dominant position”.
 
The Indian competition regulator’s ruling comes after similar setbacks in the European Union and Russia for the world’s most popular search engine.
 
In a 190-page order, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google abused its dominant position on three counts that largely relate to search, while no foul play was seen in case of advertising.
 
CCI imposed a penalty amounting to 5% of the average revenue generated from India over the three years to FY15, an amount of Rs 135.85 crore, which has to be deposited within 60 days. A maximum penalty of 10% can be imposed under the Act.
 
“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 order said. “Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general web search, to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services,” the CCI said.
 
The ruling follows complaints filed by Matrimony.com and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in 2012 against Google LLC, Google India Pvt Ltd, and Google Ireland Ltd.
 
Key Complaint Alleges Discrimination
 
The key complaint against Google is that it operates search and its advertising services AdWords in a discriminatory manner, causing harm to advertisers and indirectly to consumers.
 
Further, it was alleged to be creating an uneven playing field by favouring Google’s own services and partners, through manually manipulating its search results to the advantage of its vertical partners.
 
Google’s spokesperson said the CCI order had found in its favour for most of the issues examined, barring a few. “We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users. The Competition Commission of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws. We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps,” the spokesperson said.
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