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‘Search bias & leveraging dominance’: Google fined $21mn by Indian antitrust watchdog

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‘Search bias & leveraging dominance’: Google fined $21mn by Indian antitrust watchdog

© Christoph Hardt / Global Look Press

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Google has been fined $21 million by India’s antitrust watchdog after being accused of search bias and abusing its dominant position. The search giant says it is reviewing the complaints.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said in a 190-page order that 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.”

“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, as quoted by Reuters.

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The accusations against Google revolve around the CCI claiming the search engine places its commercial flight search function in a prominent position on the search results page. This, according to the commission, resulted in a disadvantage to businesses trying to gain market access.

The CCI has ordered that the fine – which represents five percent of the average total revenue generated by Google from its Indian operations – be paid within 60 days. The fine was approved by a majority of 4-2.

At the same time, the commission said it did not find any violation related to Google’s specialized search design, AdWords, or online distribution agreements.

The ruling brings an end to an investigation which was launched by the watchdog in 2012, following complaints filed by matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony and the not-for-profit organization Consumer and Trust Society (CUTS).

Responding to the ruling, a Google spokesman said the tech giant is reviewing the “narrow concerns”posed by the CCI, and that it will assess its next steps.

“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,” the spokesman said.

READ MORE: EU slaps Google with $2.7bn fine for manipulation of search results

This is not the first time Google had been accused of bias. Last year, it was fined €2.42 billion ($2.7 billion at the time) by the European Commission after it accused the tech giant of favoring its own shopping service and demoting rival offerings. Google has appealed against that order.

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