India’s antitrust probe into Google moves into next phase

1 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CCI and 30 Indian companies accuse Google of rigging search results; find out the other side of the story!.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A lengthy investigation into whether Google has been abusing its dominance of Internet search to stifle competition in India is moving into its next phase. Indian antitrust officials have accused Google Inc. of stifling competitors and favoring companies that advertise with it, opening up the latest front in a worldwide battle over whether the California tech company is abusing its power as a top search engine. Dating website Bharat Matrimony and the Consumer Unity and Trust Society filed the initial complaints against Google, which led to a formal accusation last week by the Competition Commission of India, the Economic Times of India reported. European regulators are still examining whether Google manipulated other types of search results to keep traffic away from sites that could diminish its advertising sales. Google copped a $166,000 fine last year for failing to cooperate with this probe, but this time around, the worst case scenario could see it fined up to 10 percent of its revenue — the company posted a net income of $14 billion on $66 billion in revenue for 2014 — according to reports.

Among the complaints are that Google gave preference to its own services, such as stock-information website Google Finance, over those of competitors and that it demoted search results related to companies that didn’t advertise much on Google. Antitrust regulators in the U.S. wrapped up a probe into Google’s practices in 2013 without requiring that the company make any major changes to how it ranks websites. Google has until Sept. 10 to respond to the Indian competition authority, the newspaper reported, and faces orders to change business practices and a fine.

After accusing Google of ambushing Zomato’s search results, Goyal added in a subsequent tweet that a senior Google executive told him that such practices were not within Google guidelines. The company is reviewing the Indian case and remains “confident that we comply fully with India’s competition laws,” a spokesperson said in a prepared statement.

Other companies had voiced no complaint in response to the various accusations levied against Google, and those include Times Internet, Make My Trip, Group M, and Rediff. “We’re currently reviewing this report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation. Meanwhile, the CIC, like other anti-trust organizations, is coming at things from a competitive standpoint, and how the market is affected by Google’s services and their dominance. For now, Google has denied any wrongdoing on its part in influencing, rigging or modifying search results, claiming it has been under stringent scrutiny the world over and has been cleared by national courts in several countries.

The U.S. company hit back at the EU with some pretty strong statements last week, but for now it looks to be going through the sheer mountain of paperwork which the CIC has released. It could be a sign that India’s organization has major issues with how many parts of Google are run; or it could be a sign that the CCI is probing as many areas as possible with the hope of landing a jab.

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