Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found global search giant Google involvement in unfair trade practices and imposed a penalty of $20 million on the search engine firm. Later, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has partially stayed CCI order and asked it to pay 10 per cent ($1 million) of the penalty amount.
According to the Google, the CCI verdict requires the company to change the way it does business in India permanently. Its plea also mentions that it has to redesign the search result pages in the country.
The probe first started by the watchdog in 2012 on complaints filed by matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony (now Matrimony.com) and a not-for-profit organisation, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS).
Google has emphasised that if the CCI findings get implemented without appellate scrutiny then it would cause great reputational loss, reports Reuters citing its appeal at NCLAT.
Meanwhile, Matrimony believes that Google deserves more severe punishment for abusing search biases.
Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it caused harm to its competitors as well as to users.
For uninitiated, indulging in search bias means manipulating the search algorithm to suppress results of the competition and unfairly promoting its own services like Google News, YouTube, Google Maps etc. This reduces traffic to competing for specialised search services.
During the course of the investigation, the CCI had found that the search engine was involved in unfair trade practices in three instances.
First, search results appeared on Google before 2010 were pre-determined and not based on relevance. Secondly, it prominently displayed and placed Commercial Flight Unit with a link to Google’s specialized Flight search service. It essentially barred users to access alternative choices, which is an unfair act.
Lastly, CCI found that prohibitions imposed on other flight aggregators are unfair as this restricts their choice of partners.
Considering the aforementioned grounds against the Alphabet-owned company, the CCI had imposed a penalty on it at the rate of 5 per cent of its total average revenue generated from Indian operations for the FY13,14, and 15.