India accuses Google of manipulating search results to squeeze out rivals

Ad giant Google could face $1.4 billion fine in India for allegedly rigging search results.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

If found guilty of rigging search results to highlight its own services, Google could face a fine of 10 percent of its annual revenue.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) opened an investigation into Google over complaints that the ad giant abused its dominant market position and its rivals were being unfairly squeezed out of Google's search results, reports Indian daily broadsheet the Economic Times.

The complaints were corroborated by over 30 internet companies including Flipkart, Facebook, Bharat Matrimony, Nokia’s maps division, MakeMyTrip and Hungama Digital.

The accusations are similar to other allegations of illegal self-promotion Google has faced in the US, Europe and other parts of the world.

Google says it is confident it will be cleared of wrongdoing in India.

“We're currently reviewing this report from the CCI's ongoing investigation. We continue to work closely with the CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India's competition laws. Regulators and courts around the world, including in the US, Germany, Taiwan, Egypt and Brazil, have looked into and found no concerns on many of the issues raised in this report", a Google spokesperson said on Monday.

Google has until September 10 to reply to the CCI report and its executives will meet the CCI commission on 17 September.

If CCI finds Google guilty, The San Francisco based company could face a huge fine of over $1.4 billion, nearly 10 percent of its annual net income in 2014. This is proving to be the first time that an antitrust body is formally charging Google for anti-competitive practices and might be cause for its European counterpart to follow suit, leading to a further $6.7 billion in possible fines.

Shares of Google are lower in early trading Monday.

The company was fined $166,000 by the CCI in March for failing to cooperate in an antitrust investigation. Also it is facing similar charges in Europe. The ad giant has denied the allegations about influencing its shopping results to put rivals at a disadvantage but in order to lose the case in Europe, Google could be fined more the US$6 billion.


TRTWorld and agencies