Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for Information Technology, has said that the government intends to take action against Google. The decision comes in response to allegations of anti-competitive practices and the abuse of market dominance by the tech giant. These findings were initially reported by an antitrust watchdog Competition Commission of India last year.
In relation to two separate cases, Google was imposed with a fine of $275 million by CCI. One case involved the company’s alleged abuse of its dominant position in the Android operating system market, while the other accused Google of pressuring developers to utilise its in-app payment system.
In an interview with news agency Reuters, MoS IT said that such findings are “serious” and cause “deep concern” to the government, which will take its own action against Google.
Chandrasekhar added, “The ministry has to take action. We have thought through it. You will see it in the coming weeks. Certainly, it’s not something that we will leave and push under the carpet.”
He said that the issue “is worrisome, not just for us, it’s worrisome for the entire digital ecosystem in India”.
Amidst growing tension between Indian start-ups and Google, in March the NCLAT ruled that the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) findings regarding Google’s anti-competitive behavior in the Android market were accurate. While the case regarding payment is currently under appeal, the minister’s comments reflect the ongoing concerns and discussions surrounding Google’s conduct in India.
According to the report, following allegations made by Tinder owner Match Group and several startups, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has initiated a fresh investigation into Google. The claim suggests that Google’s implementation of a new service fee system for in-app payments violates the competition commission’s decision made in October.
Google has defended the service fee, stating that it enables investments in the Google Play app store and the Android mobile operating system, thereby facilitating its distribution for free.
The report noted that following the Android antitrust order, Google was also forced to make sweeping changes to how it markets its mobile operating system in the country, even though it warned, “no other jurisdiction has ever asked for such far-reaching changes”.
India’s digital space is heavily reliant on Android, with approximately 97 per cent of the country’s 620 million smartphones operating on the Android platform. Recognizing India as a crucial growth market, Google has a significant presence in the country. However, it is not the only tech giant facing scrutiny. Apple and Amazon are also facing allegations of potential anti-competitive practices, with cases filed against them in India.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar told the news agency that the government was keen to take steps to ensure India’s digital economy is protected.
“We don’t want it to be growth in a way that distorts consumer choice or free competition. We will certainly be looking into what the government needs to do to prevent anybody, including but not limited to Google, from abusing their market power or market dominance,” he said.