Google fined $21 million in India for 'search bias'

Competition Commission of India fines Google for search bias

Competition Commission of India fines Google for search bias

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 Indian ruling brings to an end a probe first started by the watchdog in 2012 on complaints filed by matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony and a not-for-profit organisation, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS).

Google had a less than ideal 2017 when it came to legal woes, as it was slapped a record-breaking €2.42bn in fines for "abusing market dominance as a search engine" by the European Union's antitrust regulators, who are also investigating the company for allegedly abusing its dominance in the online advertising market. "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", the CCI said in a statement.

CCI noted that the allegations against Google linked to search results centred around design of search engine result page (SERP).

"We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next step", the company official said. "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.

Additionally, the press release includes that the CCI did not find any violation from Google with regards to its specialized search design (OneBoxes), AdWords, and online intermediation and distribution agreements.

For infringing antitrust conduct, the Commission chose to impose a fine at the rate of 5 percent of the average total revenue generated by the company from its Indian operations.

Naval Chopra of law firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, which represented Bharat Matrimony said: "The Google decision is a landmark decision and the CCI has established itself as a trend setter when it comes to online markets". "It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate".

The US internet giant was deemed to have favoured its own services when customers ran searches according to a report from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) six years after it began investigations into the company.

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