Google has been trying to establish its very own Internet walled garden for a while now. The search engine leader has, time and again, misused its dominant presence to promote its own services and products. Today, however, the company has been met with a critical roadblock in the form of the Competition Commission of India (CCI). In response to a complaint filed by Matrimony.com in 2012, the regulatory authority has today penalized Google with a hefty fine of Rs 135.86 crore on the grounds of “search bias”.
“The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found Google to have abused its dominant position in online general web search and web search advertising services in India. The order was passed in response to information filed by Matrimony.com Limited and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in 2012,” stated the CCI.
For the uninitiated, the CCI is responsible for making sure every corporation follows The Competition Act, 2002, throughout the country and dismisses any action which can potentially result in an adverse effect on competition. Google was found altering the design of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) to favor its services — specifically, Google Flight. “CCI noted in its order that Google through its search design has not only placed its commercial flight unit at a prominent position on SERP, it has also allocated disproportionate real estate thereof to such units to the disadvantage of verticals trying to gain market access,” added CCI.
In addition to that, the committee discovered that the search engine juggernaut was injecting a link in a bunch of commercial ad units which led users to Google Flight. Google has been offered a time period of sixty days for depositing the sum.
This isn’t, unfortunately, the first time Google has been accused of taking unfair advantage of its leading search engine. Earlier last year, a report revealed how Google has been pushing its own products on top of results. Moreover, the company has begun recently restricting a bunch of its web offerings to Chrome. For instance, the new Google Earth cannot be accessed from any other browser other than Google’s own.
Update: Google India has this to say about the CCI order
We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users. The Competition Commission of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws. We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps.