Competition Commission slaps Rs 1,337 crore penalty on Google

The fair trade regulator has directed the internet major to cease and desist from unfair business practices.
Google image used for representational purpose. (Photo | AP)
Google image used for representational purpose. (Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI: The Competition Commission on Thursday imposed a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem.

Besides, the fair trade regulator has directed the internet major to cease and desist from unfair business practices.

In a release, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said it has also directed Google to modify its conduct within a defined timeline.

In April 2019, the regulator ordered a detailed probe in the matter following complaints by consumers of Android-based smartphones in the country.

Android is an open-source, mobile operating system installed by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of smartphones and tablets.

The allegations of unfair business practices pertained to two agreements -- Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) and Anti Fragmentation Agreement (AFA) -- which were entered into by the OEMs of Android OS with Google.

In the release, the regulator said it has imposed a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem apart from issuing the cease and desist order.

As per the release, CCI said that mandatory pre-installation of entire Google Mobile Suite (GMS) under MADA, with no option to un-install the same, and their prominent placement amounts to imposition of unfair condition on the device manufacturers and thereby contravenes competition law.

"These obligations are also found to be in the nature of supplementary obligations imposed by Google on OEMs and thus, in contravention of Section 4(2)(d) of the Act," it added.

Section 4 of the Competition Act pertains to abuse of dominant position.

Google has perpetuated its dominant position in the online search market resulting in denial of market access for competing search apps.

Also, it has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to protect its position in online general search which violates the competition law.

Further, CCI noted that the internet major has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to enter as well as protect its position in non-OS specific web browser market through Google Chrome App.

"Google has leveraged its dominant position in the app store market for Android OS to enter as well as protect its position in Online Video Hosting Platforms (OVHPs) market through YouTube and thereby contravened provisions of Section 4(2)(e) of the Act," the release said.

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