Google files writ against Indian antitrust watchdog following report leak

Google on Thursday filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court against the Competition Commission of India following the leak of a damning confidential report detailing the watchdog’s interim fact-finding in an antitrust probe.

The report, which Google has yet to formally receive or review, said the American giant had abused the dominant position of Android in India to illegally hurt competitors in the world’s second-largest internet market. The Indian antitrust watchdog began its probe into Google’s alleged abuse of Android in the country two years ago. About 98% of smartphones in India run Google’s mobile operating system, according to research firm Counterpoint.

Google said it is seeking “redress in this matter, specifically protesting against the breach of confidence which impairs Google’s ability to defend itself and harms Google and its partners.”

Last week’s report said Google had reduced device manufacturing firms’ ability and incentive to develop — and sell — devices running alternative versions of Android. Additionally, the report found Google’s requirement to make it mandatory for device manufacturers to pre-install its apps to be in violation of India’s competition law.

The company said today it has not yet had the opportunity to review the report’s findings, “much less submit its defence of any allegations.”

India is a key overseas market for Google where the company reaches over half a billion internet users, according to Comscore. The Android-maker has also made significant investments in the country. Last year, it announced plans to invest $10 billion in the country over the course of five to seven years and has already spent a considerable amount of it, thanks to a $4.5 billion check to Indian technology giant Jio Platforms.

“We are deeply concerned that the Director General’s Report, which contains our confidential information in an ongoing case, was leaked to the media while in the CCI’s custody,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

“Protecting confidential information is fundamental to any governmental investigation, and we are pursuing our legal right to seek redress and prevent any further unlawful disclosures. We cooperated fully and maintained confidentiality throughout the investigative process, and we hope and expect the same level of confidentiality from the institutions we engage with.”