Home Technology Regulation Narrow concerns or irreparable harm? Google can't decide about Indian fine
Google is fighting the fine in India. Google is fighting the fine in India. Pixabay

After initially claiming that a fine imposed on it by the Indian anti-trust watchdog raised only "narrow concerns", Google has now changed tack and is alleging that the ruling would cause it "irreparable reputational loss".

The news agency Reuters said it had glimpsed a legal document submitted by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which said February's ruling by the Competition Commission of India “requires Google to change the way it conducts business in India on a lasting basis and the way it designs its search results page in India”.

Google was hit with the fine, amounting to 135.86 crore rupees (about US$21.1 million), for "abusing its dominant position in online general Web search and Web search advertising services in India".

When the fine was announced, a Google spokesman said the company was reviewing the “narrow concerns” identified by the CCI and would consider what to do next.

At the time, the CCI said the fine followed complaints made by two websites in 2012: matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony (Matrimony.com) and the non-profit Consumer and Trust Society.

Bharat Matrimony has also appealed the CCI verdict with the company claiming that Google should have been hit with a much bigger fine.

Google was asked to pay the fine in 60 days, but obtained a partial stay from the company law tribunal, which meant it had to deposit a small portion of the fine.

In its 190-page ruling, the CCI had said: “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.”

But the search behemoth claimed the CCI was wrong in ruling that the agreements it made with other companies — which restricted them from partnering with competing search services — violated competition laws.

“If Google is restricted from entering into certain types of contracts while the appellate review is conducted, Google will be irreparably harmed,” it claimed, but gave no reason for this conclusion.

The Indian fine is the latest in a series of penalties imposed on Google over alleged monopolistic behaviour.

Google was fined €2.42 billion (US$2.7 billion) by the European Union in June last year for allegedly abusing its search engine dominance to give illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service. The company has appealed the decision.

It also faces EU fines over its AdSense advertising system and its Android mobile operating system.

The Indian case will next come up for hearing on 28 May.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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