Google fined Rs 136 cr in India for bias in search results

Globally, this is one of the rare cases where Google has been penalised for unfair business ways.

Google fined Rs 136 cr in India for bias in search results
Photo: Reuters

The Competition Commission of India (CCI), which is country's antitrust watchdog on Thursday imposed a fine of Rs 136 crore on search engine major Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search.

Passing the order on complaints that were filed back in 2012, the regulator said the penalty is being imposed on Google for "infringing antitrust conduct".

Globally, this is one of the rare cases where Google has been penalised for unfair business ways.

"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.

It was alleged that Google is indulging in abuse of dominant position in the market for online search through practices leading to search bias and search manipulation, among others.

Meanwhile, a Google spokesperson said, "We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users."

According to the CCI order, the penalty amount of Rs 135.86 crore translates to 5 percent of the company's average total revenue generated from India operations from its different business segments for the financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015.

In 2012, cases were filed against Google by CUTS — a consumer organisation led by Pradeep Mehta, and Consim — a matrimonial website and Google AdWords customer.

In June 2012, the CCI asked its investigative arm to conduct an investigation into the matter and it submitted its preliminary report in August 2015.

In September 2016, CCI shared with Google the evidence and analysis behind the preliminary report.

Two months later, Google submitted a written response and in January 2017, the company presented oral submissions at the CCI hearings.

The regulator said that it has given thoughtful consideration on the submissions made by Google on the issue of penalty and found it appropriate to impose a fine.

The company will need to deposit the fine within 60 days, the commission said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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