The Competitive Commission of India have received queries from business giants like Flipkart, Facebook, Nokia’s maps division, MakeMy-Trip.com and several other companies that US Internet giant Google abused its dominant market position in procuring search results.
The CCI director-general last week filed a report that accuses Google of abusing its dominant position to rig search outcomes, which includes actual search results as well as sponsored links, as seen in the responses from 30 businesses spanning search, social networks, ecommerce, travel and content sites. This marks the first case globally where an antitrust body is formally raising such charges against Google.
This was first initiated when Bharat Matrimony and a Jaipur-based not-for-profit, Consumer Unity and Trust Society, lodged their complaints against the search giant. The Economic Times has highlighted Microsoft’s extensive submission on Google’s alleged abuse of dominance. Others who responded to CCI include Map-MyIndia.com, Hungama Digital and GroupM.
The company has been asked to present itself in front of a seven-member committee headed by chairman Ashok Chawla, a week prior to which it has to submit a report consisting its findings regarding the complaints. The proceeding can go on for several hearings before the commission makes a decision, which can be challenged in the Supreme Court. If the commission finds Google guilty, it can ask the company to make changes in the way it does business.
There is possibility that CCI might impose a fine up to 10% of Google’s income. The CCI could also pursue against top Google executives. Google posted a net income of more than $14 billion on revenue of $66 billion in 2014.
“We’re currently reviewing this report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation,” a Google spokesman said in an email to ET. “We continue to work closely with the CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India’s competition laws. Regulators and courts around the world, including in the US, Germany, Taiwan, Egypt and Brazil, have looked into and found no concerns on many of the issues raised in this report.”
The report finds that the prominence of the search result is dependent on a quality score. The score itself says the report is calculated ambiguously. It highlights that Google modifies its search algorithms without informing users and changes results in dramatic changes. It cites the example of a UK website, Ciao!, which slipped to the second page of search results from one of the top results overnight. As a result of this the organisation lost substantial business. “As a result of Google policy, it is unavoidable for the trademark owners to participate and outbid third parties in the auction process for their ads to appear above others in response to search queries on their own trademark keywords,” said the report