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Google hit Rs 936.44-Crore fine; CCI’s second sentence in a week; Check the reason

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has fined Google Rs 936.44 crore for abusing its dominant position over its Play Store policy. This is the second CCI injunction against Google in less than a week in which the regulator has asked the internet giant to stop unfair business practices.

Why did CCI fine Google?

Play Store Policy: In the latest ruling on Tuesday (October 25), Google was fined Rs 936.44 crore for abusing its dominant position over its Play Store policy. Google’s Play Store is the main distribution channel for app developers in the Android mobile ecosystem, allowing the owners to take advantage of the apps that are brought to market. The CCI said that making access to the Play Store for app developers dependent on mandatory use of GPBS (Google Play’s Billing System) for paid apps and in-app purchases is an unfair condition for app developers.

The fine of Rs 936.44 crore represents 7 percent of Google’s average relevant revenue.

Android mobile devices: In another ruling against Google last week (October 20), the CCI fined Google Rs 1,337.76 crore for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets related to Android mobile devices, and ordered the internet giant to pay various unfair commercial practices.

Online search: The CCI had also fined Google Rs 136 crore in February 2018 for unfair trade practices in the Indian online search market. It was accused of abusing its dominant position in the online search market through practices that include search bias and search manipulation.

Currently, the CCI is also investigating Google in cases of alleged anti-competitive practices by Google regarding news content and smart TV.

The CCI Order Against Google

Aside from the fine, the CCI said Google cannot prohibit app developers from using third-party billing/payment processing services to buy apps.

Google is also instructed to provide required financial information within 30 days of receipt of the order. Similar comments were also made in the CCI’s ruling against Google in the Android case.

Google has been asked to take several steps, including allowing and not restricting app developers to use third-party billing/payment processing services, both for in-app purchases and for purchasing apps. “Google will also not discriminate in any way or otherwise take adverse action against such apps that use third-party billing/payment processing services,” the release said.

Furthermore, the internet major has been asked not to impose anti-driving restrictions or restrict app developers from communicating with their users to promote their apps and offers in any way. Google must not in any way restrict end users to access and use within apps, the features and services offered by app developers, the release said.

According to the CCI, the company must establish a clear and transparent policy regarding data collected on its platform, the platform’s use of such data and also the potential and actual sharing of such data with app developers or other entities, including related entities. The regulator has told Google, among other things, that competition-relevant transaction/consumer data from apps generated and obtained through GPBS should not be used by the company to increase its competitive advantage.

“Google will also grant the app developer access to the data generated through the respective app, subject to adequate safeguards, as noted in this order,” the release said. Also, CCI has asked the Internet Major not to impose any term on app developers that is unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory or disproportionate to the services provided to the app developers.

According to the regulator, Google must ensure full transparency in communication with app developers, services provided and the associated fee. Google will also unambiguously publish the payment policy and the criteria for the eligibility of the fee. “Google will in no way discriminate against other apps that allow payment through UPI in India over its own UPI app,” it added.

(With inputs from PTI)

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