#ReadToKnow: Why Is Google Suing The Competition Commission Of India?

The tech giant is suing the Indian antitrust watchdog. Here’s everything you should know about it.

What Happened?

On Thursday, Google filed a writ petition against the Competition Commission of India (CCI). CCI has been sued after the leak of a confidential report into an antitrust investigation of the U.S tech giant. Google said that the legal challenge against CCI is “to prevent any further unlawful disclosures of confidential findings.”

Google said, as mentioned by Reuters, it was “protesting against the breach of confidence which impairs Google’s ability to defend itself and harms Google and its partners.” The firm also said, “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.”

The Investigation

In 2019, India’s antitrust authority ordered an investigation into Google, after two Indian junior antitrust research associates and a law student filed a complaint. The probe went on for two years. Even though the report hasn’t been made public yet, media companies have been reporting about them for the past couple of days.

On Saturday, Reuters reported that the CCI probe had found that Google had abused the dominant position of its Android operating system in India, using its “huge financial muscle” to illegally hurt competitors. The June report by the CCI’s investigations unit said that Google reduced “the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operating on alternative versions of Android and force them to pre-install Google apps. The report also found that Android has been “enjoying its dominant position” in licensable operating systems for smartphones and tablets since 2011.

The report found the mandatory pre-installation of apps “amounts to imposition of unfair condition on the device manufacturers” and this is in violation of India’s competition law. The report also found that the firm leveraged the position of its Play Store app store to protect its dominance, saying that the Play Store policies were “one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary.”

What’s Next?

Google said that it is looking forward to working with the CCI to “demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less.” The tech giant will also be given the opportunity to defend itself before the final order is issued by the regulator.

Recently, South Korea fined Google $177 million for blocking customised versions of its Android OS, which amounted to an abuse of its market position that restricted competition in the market. Just like South Korea, media reports are suggesting that India might also impose financial penalties depending on the final order itself, writes, The Quint.

Zooming Out

According to Comscore, India is a major overseas market for Google where the firm reaches more than a half a billion internet users. The company has also made considerable investments in the country. Last year, the firm said that it is planning to invest $10 billion in India over the course of five to seven years and has already spent a significant amount of it. So, we can assume that the leak of this report will affect Google’s reputation, and the release of the actual report might do worse damage.

The damage might not stop with Google’s reputation alone. Just like South Korea, which became the first country to ban Google and Apple’s monopolies on App Store payments, we might see India doing the same following this report. We know that Google is facing antitrust lawsuits in several countries, including the U.S. So, India’s report and its possible stringent actions against the company might push other countries to do the same as well. We have to wait and see whether the government is imposing penalties or taking any other actions against the tech giant in the upcoming days…

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