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CCI slaps Rs 136 crore penalty on Google

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The today imposed a fine of Rs 136 crore on internet giant for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search.

After a detailed probe on the complaints filed in 2012, the regulator through a majority order said the penalty is being imposed on for "infringing anti-trust conduct".

On the ruling, a said the company is "reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps".

Globally, this is one of the rare cases where Google has been penalised for unfair business ways, even as it has been under probe in several countries.

It was alleged that Google is indulging in abuse of dominant position in the market for through practices leading to search bias and search manipulation, among others.

For this case, the of (CCI) considered markets in for online general web search services and for advertising services as the relevant ones.

The penalty amount of Rs 135.86 crore translates to 5 per cent of the company's average total revenue generated from operations from its different business segments for the financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to the order.

The said it has given thoughtful consideration on the submissions made by Google on issue of penalty and found it appropriate to impose a fine.

The ruling has come on complaints filed by and (CUTS) -- back in 2012 -- against Google LLC, and Google Ireland Ltd.

While the majority order is by D K Sikri and three members, two members have issued a dissent order saying that they don't find Google in violation of Section 4 of the Competition Act. This section pertains to abuse of dominant position.

The Google said the company has always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of users.

"The of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws. We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps," the said in a statement.

On the basis of the probe report submitted by the Director General, the CCI broadly looked at four aspects -- whether Google biases its search results, whether it imposes unfair conditions on advertisers, whether the company's distribution and intermediation agreements restrict competition.

"The Commission is cognizant of the fact that any intervention in has to be carefully crafted lest it stifles innovation and denies consumers the benefits that such innovation can offer.

"This can have a detrimental effect on economic welfare and economic growth, particularly in countries relying on high growth such as India," the order said.

The regulator also noted that product design is an important and integral dimension of competition and any undue intervention in designs of SERP (Results Page) may affect legitimate product improvements resulting in consumer harm.

"Having said that, it is made clear that such regulatory forbearance from interfering with is only by way of self-imposed restraint but if in a given case the Commission finds the conduct to be egregious, appropriate remedies and directions shall be issued to correct such a distortion," the order said.

Further, the CCI said it has examined the issues within the permissible parameters in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 08 2018. 21:25 IST