Google Fined $21M In India Over Search Bias

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has fined a penalty of ₹ 1.36 Billion ($21M) on Google for being search biased. CCI has found that Google has abused its dominant position in online general web search and web search advertising services in India.
 
CCI says that this unfair business practice of Google has impacted the competitors as well as the search users from India. The penalty amount imposed by CCI is around 5 percent of Google’s average total revenue from India. 
 
CCI noted several allegations against the company which were stated in its press release as,
 
“The CCI in its order noted that the allegations against Google in respect of search results essentially centered around the design of Search Engine Result Page (SERP). Exhibiting a self-imposed regulatory forbearance from scrutinizing product designs in ascertaining anti-trust violations, CCI noted in its order that product design is an important and integral dimension of competition, undue intervention in designs of SERP can affect legitimate product improvements. CCI further observed in its order that Google, being the gateway to the internet for a vast majority of internet users due to its dominance in the online web search market, is under an obligation to discharge its special responsibility.”
 
The acts and provisions under which the company was put to penalty were –
 
“In this backdrop, CCI found prominent display of Commercial Flight Unit by Google on Search Engine Result Page (SERP) with a link to Google’s specialized search options/ services (Flight) in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act. CCI noted in its order that Google through its search design has not only placed its commercial flight unit at a prominent position on SERP, it has also allocated disproportionate real estate thereof to such units to the disadvantage of verticals trying to gain market access. Besides, it was also found that Google has provided a further link in such commercial units which leads users to its specialized search result page (Google Flight) resulting into unfair imposition upon the users of general search services as well.
The CCI also noted in the order that ranking of Universal Results prior to 2010 was pre-determined to trigger at the 1st, 4th or 10th position on the SERP instead of by their relevance. Such practice of Google was unfair to the users and was found to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act. However, CCI noted in its order that since October 2010, Google has made a display of such results on a free-floating basis. Accordingly, taking Google’s submission on record, CCI refrained from issuing any cease order and only directed Google to desist from such a practice in future.”
 
Well, this is not the first time when Google is accused of such allegations. In recent past also, the company was penalized with $2.7M fine on the same grounds, by European Union. The company, however, condemned the conclusion of the EU and we believe, they will disagree with this one too.
 
To learn the full details of the case and penalty issues, you can go through the Official Press Release by CCI, India.