India fines Google £100m for second time in a week in clash over competition laws

India asks Google to adopt eight remedies or operations adjustments within three months.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Wednesday 26 October 2022 13:15 BST
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India's competition regulator on Tuesday fined Google £98m for anti-competitive practices and abusing its "dominant position" on its mobile app store, in the second such penalty in less than a week.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said it found in its antitrust probe that Google uses its dominant position to force app developers to use its in-app payment system.

The antitrust body in its 199-page order asked Google to adopt eight remedies or operations adjustments within three months.

The CCI directed the US tech giant to not "restrict app developers from using third-party billing/ payment processing services for either in-app purchases or for purchasing apps".

Google should ensure complete transparency in communicating with app developers and details about service fees charged, the CCI order stated.

The search engine company, in a statement on Wednesday, said it was "committed" to its users and developers and are reviewing the decision to evaluate the next steps.

“Indian developers have benefited from tech, security, consumer protections and unrivaled choice and flexibility that Android and Google Play provide,” a Google spokesperson was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.

“By keeping costs low, our model powered India’s digital transformation and expanded access for hundreds of millions of Indians.”

The setback comes just days after the company was fined £139 for anti-competitive practices by using its Android platform to dominate its position on the market.

The regulator had asked the company to not restrict smartphone users from uninstalling its pre-installed Google apps. It asked Google to ‘cease and desist’ from unfair trade practices.

The company had then termed the decision a major setback for customers and businesses in India. Google’s operating system powers 97 per cent of India’s 600 million smartphones, according to Counterpoint Research.

The tech giant is facing a series of antitrust cases and the tightening of existing tech-sector regulations in India. The inquiry into Google's payment ecosystem began in 2020, after an antitrust case was filed against the company.

Naval Chopra, an antitrust partner at India’s Shardul Amarchand law firm, which represented that complainant, said that the regulator’s order will help ensure healthy competition and reduce costs for app developers.

“The CCI order directing Google to allow alternate payment processing systems will remove the artificial barrier that Google had erected,” Mr Chopra told Reuters.

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