Google fined for not cooperating with India's antitrust agency

The investigation since 2012 is focused on Google's alleged abuse of market power in online search and search advertising

Google has been fined about US$166,000 by India's antitrust agency for not providing information and documents required in an investigation.

The inquiry into Google dates back to 2012 and is focused on allegations of Google's abuse of market power in online search and search advertising.

The Competition Commission of India said Thursday it had also directed Google to cooperate in the investigations by furnishing other information or documents its director general may call for.

It said it had passed the order in the context of, among other things, "non-cooperation by Google in the pending investigations."

Consumer watchdog group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) International approached the CCI, which has quasi-legal authority, to investigate the potential misuse by Google of its dominant position in online search and search-related advertising markets.

CUTS had submitted its "preliminary information report" to the CCI following the investigations into the practices of the Internet giant by the European Commission and antitrust agencies in other jurisdictions.

An online matrimonial services portal in India also filed a complaint in 2012 against Google before the CCI, alleging discriminatory practices related to its AdWords program.

The matter was also raised in India's Parliament the same year, with a minister saying that Google was being investigated under Section 4 of the country's Competition Act which relates to the prohibition of abuse of a dominant position.

"We're disappointed by this development. While we are confident that our products are compliant with competition law in India, we continue to cooperate fully with the Competition Commission of India's extensive and ongoing investigation," Google said in a statement Thursday. "We've not yet received this procedural order, but will review it fully once we have."

Google and its Indian operation are the top two sites in India, according to Web information company Alexa. The one-month rank is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors and page views over the past month. Facebook and Google unit YouTube are in the third and fourth positions, respectively.

The CCI can impose a penalty of up to 10 percent of a company's average revenue for the last three years if it is found to violate competition laws.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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