Google got slapped for abusing its power in India

The Google logo seen on a door at the company's office in Tel Aviv

The Google logo seen on a door at the company's office in Tel Aviv

Competition Commission of India on Thursday imposed a Rs 136 crore fine on Larry Page-led Google for unfair business practices in the country's online search market, the latest such penalty on the search engine.

The ruling caps off an investigation that started back in 2012, when Matrimony.com and nonprofit Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) filed a complaint against Google and two of its worldwide divisions, Google India Pvt Ltd and Google Ireland Ltd.

In its order, the CCI said Google "runs its core businesses of search and search advertising in an unfair and discriminatory manner" and creates an "uneven playing field by unduly favouring its own services" over those of competitors.

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It was alleged that Google indulged in abuse of its dominant position in online search through practices leading to search bias and search manipulation, among others.

The investigation looked at other aspects of Google's search business, including its OneBox design-the boxes that call out results from Google's specialized search pages, like images, videos, or news, within the main page of results-advertising service AdWords, and online-distribution agreements.

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

Passing the order on complaints filed in 2012, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said the penalty is being imposed on Google for "infringing anti-trust conduct". This section pertains to abuse of dominant position. "Google's strategy for its comparison- shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals", Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust chief, had said. Exhibiting a self-imposed regulatory forbearance from scrutinizing product designs in ascertaining anti-trust violations, CCI also noted that product design is an important and integral dimension of competition, undue intervention in designs of SERP can affect legitimate product improvements. Further, the CCI said it has examined the issues within the permissible parameters in technology markets.

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