Country's antitrust watchdog on Thursday imposed a Rs 1.36 billion ($21.17 million) fine on Google for "search bias", in the latest regulatory setback for the world's most popular internet search engine.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google, a unit of U.S. firm Alphabet Inc, was abusing its dominance in online web search and online search advertising markets.
The anti-trust regulator, acting on complaints filed by Matrimony.com and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in 2012, said the penalty is being imposed on Google for "infringing anti-trust conduct”. The two complainants alleged that Google is abusing its dominant positon in the search engine market and manipulating search results.
"Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users,” the CCI said in a 190-page order.
"Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general web search, to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services,” the CCI said.
For this case, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) considered markets in India for online general web search services and for online search advertising services as the relevant ones.
The penalty amount of Rs 135.86 crore translates to 5 per cent of the company's average total revenue generated from India operations from its different business segments for the financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to the CCI order.
The company will need to deposit the fine within 60 days, the commission said.
The CCI said it has given thoughtful consideration on the submissions made by Google on issue of penalty and found it appropriate to impose a fine.
Reacting to the verdict, a Google spokesperson said: "We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users. The Competition Commission of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws. We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps.”
Globally, this is one of the rare cases where Google has been penalised for unfair business ways, even as it has been under probe in several countries.