Google has been fined more than $21 million in India for "search bias" and abuse of its dominant position, competition regulators said Thursday. The order was passed in response to information filed by Matrimony.com and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in 2012, a statement issued by CCI said.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) focused on Google's commercial flight search function.
To view the full article, register now. The commission singled out Google's Flight service, stating that it reserved prominent space on its search results page for its own service, and even led users to a specialised search results page dedicated to the Google Flight service. For example recently Google started to allow users to book their flights and hotels simultaneously through the search results, thus bypassing the need to go to another website.
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.
CCI found that the "disproportionate real-estate" given to the flight unit unfairly pushed down or pushed out other travel sites in India that relied on search engines to reach shoppers, it said in a 190-page order (pdf).
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The commission imposed a penalty of Rs 136 crore on Google for infringing anti-trust conduct and asked the company to deposit the amount within 60 days of receiving the order.
The watchdog has also ordered Google to not enforce the restrictive clauses with immediate effect in its negotiated direct search intermediation agreements with Indian partners.
The hefty fee was calculated as five percent of the average annual revenue generated by Google's Indan operations. The Competition Commission of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws.
"The Commission is cognizant of the fact that any intervention in technology markets has to be carefully crafted lest it stifles innovation and denies consumers the benefits that such innovation can offer".