In an ongoing antitrust case against search engine Google, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has come out with 14-page order alleging misuse of its dominant position by the search engine in India.
The CCI, in a prima facie finding, said that Google appears to reduce the ability of device manufacturers to opt for alternate versions of its Android mobile operating system.
The mandatory preinstallation of entire GMS suite under MADA amounts to imposition of ‘unfair condition’ on the device manufacturers and thereby in contravention of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act, said the order. It also amounts to prima facie leveraging of Google’s dominance, it added.
The order, dated April 16, further sought for wider probe against Google. The CCI also directed the DG to complete the investigation and submit the investigation report within five months.
The CCI, began looking into the case last year after a complaint against the search engine that it allegedly abused its dominant position to hamper competition. In April, the CCI launched a full investigation.
The Commission also made clear that nothing stated in this order shall tantamount to a final expression of opinion on the merits of the case.
Last year in July, the European Commission (EU) had imposed a $5 billion fine on Google for violating anti-trust laws.
In India, if Google found abusing its dominant position, can face up to 10% of the relevant turnover of an entity in the last three fiscals.
However, Google in its submission said Android users have considerable freedom to customize their phones and to install apps that compete with Google, as per CCI order.
This is not a first such case against the search giant.
In February 2018, CCI had imposed a fine of Rs 136 crore on Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for an online search. In June 2017, it was fined over $3 billion for abusing its dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to Google’s own comparison shopping service.
In 2016, the company was also found to abuse its dominant position in a case concerning AdSense.