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Google got slapped for abusing its power in India

By on Feb 9, 2018 in Mobile Design | 0 comments

India’s anti-trust watchdog Feb. 08 fined US-based search giant Google (pdf) $1.36 billion rupee ($21 million), or about 5% of the average total revenue from its India operations, for “search bias.”

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) focused on Google’s commercial flight search function. The box, which advertisers can pay to be featured in, is usually displayed prominently in Google’s search results when a user searches for a flight or airline through the main search engine.

It shows sample rates from certain airlines based on the user’s query, and allows users to enter their travel dates and route for more targeted results. If the user selects “search flights” from within the box, they are taken to Google’s flight search page, Google Flights, which lists available flights, and links to airline and other sites where flights can be booked.

CCI found that the “disproportionate real-estate” given to the flight unit unfairly pushed down or pushed out other travel sites in India that relied on search engines to reach shoppers, it said in a 190-page order (pdf). CCI also said Google was being unfair to users by leading them to the Google Flight search page, which may leave them “devoid of additional choices of results,” and called for clearer labeling of the link. The order was in response to a 2012 complaint filed against Google by Limited and Consumer Unity Trust Society.

The investigation looked at other aspects of Google’s search business, including its OneBox design—the boxes that call out results from Google’s specialized search pages, like images, videos, or news, within the main page of results—advertising service AdWords, and online-distribution agreements. It did not find any wrongdoing on those fronts.

“The Competition Commission of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws,” a Google spokesperson told Quartz. “We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps.”

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