The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has charged the U.S. company with rigging search results to benefit its many businesses, as Economic Times reports. Google copped a $166,000 fine last year for failing to cooperate with this probe, but this time around, the worst case scenario could see it fined up to 10 percent of its revenue — the company posted a net income of $14 billion on $66 billion in revenue for 2014 — according to reports.
TechCrunch understands that the CCI’s document is over 600 pages in length, although the chief concerns center around how Google positions and uses its own services with its search engine. Like the initial European investigation, Indian authorities appear to believe that its search engine is favoring the company’s maps service, travel sites, and advertising products, at the expense of competitors and those that use its advertising services.
As part of its probe, the CCI sought out industry opinions on Google’s position. Economic Times reported that a bevy of high-profile technology companies — including Flipkart, Facebook, and Nokia HERE — corroborated the complaint, which was initially filed by matrimony service Bharat, nonprofit Consumer Unity and Trust Society. TechCrunch understands from sources, though, that it wasn’t all one-way traffic. Other companies had voiced no complaint in response to the various accusations levied against Google, and those include Times Internet, Make My Trip, Group M, and Rediff.
Google has until September 10 to file a response, after which it must present its case to the commission.
“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,” a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch.
“Regulators and courts around the world, including in the U.S., Germany, Taiwan, Egypt and Brazil, have looked into and found no concerns on many of the issues raised in this report,” the rep added.
Google regularly tweaks its services — it did so after an FTC probe in the U.S. in 2013 — and generally it claims that its products are developed to provide the best possible experience for end-users. Meanwhile, the CIC, like other anti-trust organizations, is coming at things from a competitive standpoint, and how the market is affected by Google’s services and their dominance.
The U.S. company hit back at the EU with some pretty strong statements last week, but for now it looks to be going through the sheer mountain of paperwork which the CIC has released. India’s scope of investigation appears to be a lot wider than what we have, or are seeing, in other parts of the world. That could work two ways. It could be a sign that India’s organization has major issues with how many parts of Google are run; or it could be a sign that the CCI is probing as many areas as possible with the hope of landing a jab.
We’ll have to wait until September 10 to know more. The smart money is on Google sticking to its guns and responding in India as it has done in Europe and other parts of the world: with fighting talk.