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CCI Slaps Another Penalty On Google For Anti-competitive Practices

The regulator has fined the tech giant for abusing its dominant position with respect to its Play Store policies

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Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Tuesday imposed a penalty of Rs 936.44 crore on Google in relation to its Play Store policies.

The regulator has fined the tech giant for abusing its dominant position with respect to its Play Store policies. Further, CCI has also issued a cease-and-desist order. 

Additionally, the Commission has directed Google to modify its conduct within a defined timeline.

Google’s Play Store policies require the App developers to exclusively and mandatorily use Google Play's Billing System (GPBS) not only for receiving payments for Apps (and other digital products like audio, video, games) distributed/sold through the Google Play Store but also for certain in-app purchases i.e., purchases made by users of Apps after they have downloaded/ purchased the App from the Play Store.

Further, app developers cannot, within an app, provide users with a direct link to a webpage containing an alternative payment method or use language that encourages a user to purchase the digital item outside of the app (anti-steering provisions).

In a statement, the CCI said, “If the app developers do not comply with Google’s policy of using GPBS, they are not permitted to list their apps on the Play Store and thus, would lose out the vast pool of potential customers in the form of Android users. Making access to the Play Store dependent on mandatory usage of GPBS for paid apps and in-app purchases is one sided and arbitrary and devoid of any legitimate business interest. The app developers are left bereft of the inherent choice to use payment processor of their liking from the open market.”

CCI found that Google was undertaking discriminatory practices by not using GPBS for its own applications i.e., YouTube. “This also amount to imposition of discriminatory conditions as well as pricing as YouTube is not paying the service fee as being imposed on other apps covered in the GPBS requirements,” CCI added. 

Under these grounds, CCI says Google is found to be in violation of Section 4(2)(a)(i) and 4(2)(a)(ii) of the Act.

The CCI has imposed a penalty at 7 per cent of its average relevant turnover amounting to Rs 936.44 crore upon Google on provisional basis, for violating Section 4 of the Act. The body has given Google a time of 30 days to provide the requisite financial details and supporting documents.

The fresh penalty comes on the heels of a Rs 1,337.76 crore for anti-competitive practices related to Android mobile devices.

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