Google Staring At Rs 31000 Crore Fine By Competition Commission of India
“Don’t be Evil” is the informal motto of Google; but it seems that the antitrust heat accumulated inside India against Google can alter it.
Google can be charged $5 billion or Rs 31000 crore as penalty by Competition Commission of India (CCI) for abusing its dominant position in the online search and advertisement market. CCI has been investigating an antitrust case against Google for the past 2 years, and if found guilty, Google will have to pay this fine.
Under existing CCI guidelines, a company which has been found guilty of antitrust activities and violating the norms can be charged 10% of it’s last three year annual average turnover.
Google has made revenues of $49.3 billion in the last three years, based on this; the maximum penalty which can be charged on Google is $5 billion.
In the year 2012, Cuts International, an organization devoted to consumer rights and protection filed an antitrust charge against Google Inc., which is still being investigated by CCI. As per a research paper submitted to CCI, Google has been accused of:
“The issues identified in respect of Google definitely raise doubt about the conduct of the Google and needs in- depth investigation to determine whether such practices relating to search engines and advertising search market are also being resorted to in India. This is because Indian market also has no. of vertical search engines which may be feeling the brunt.”
“The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has already found “prima facie”evidence that Google had abused its dominant market position by being discriminatory in allotting keywords to matrimonial site Bharatmatrimony.com”. The probe is to focus on Ad Words – Google’s flagship advertising product and main source of revenue.”
BharatMatromony.com also had earlier filed a case against Google, citing discriminatory trade practices. Consim Info, which runs BharatMatrimony.com filed a case in Madras High Court against Google for displaying their competitor’s website when users searched for “bharatmatrimony” in Google search.
It was a case of brand name hacking on Google search by its competitors such as Shaadi.com, JeevanSaathi.com and others. Here is an interview of Consim Info CEO Murugavel Janakiraman regarding this issue.
A Google spokesman said in a statement, “We are extending full co-operation to the Competition Commission of India in their investigation. We’re pleased that the conclusion of the Federal Trade Commission’s two year review was that Google’s services are good for users and good for competition”.
Google has successfully settled anti-trust cases by various consumer groups in US and Europe in the past. But the issue with CCI is that, settlement is not allowed in India; neither the concerned parties can take back their cases.
This means that either Google would be cleared of all wrongdoings (which is highly impossible now) or a penalty would be charged.
Here is an interesting post by Forbes India on how Google is “Gobbling Up the Indian Internet Space”.
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