CCI fresh probe against Google over ad space

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published:May 14, 2014 12:50 am

In what will add to the woes of Internet giant Google, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered a fresh probe against the company on alleged abuse of its dominant position in the online search advertising space.

Earlier, advocacy group CUTS International had filed a complaint alleging anti-competitive and discriminatory practices in India in 2012. Later, matrimonial website Pvt Ltd also filed a complaint and a fine of Rs one crore was imposed by the CCI on Google for its failure to comply with the directions given by its director general seeking information and documents in both these cases.

“Google’s practices towards AdWords customers … needs to be investigated under Section 4 of the Act … The commission directs the director general to cause an investigation to be made into the matter and to complete the investigation within a period of 60 days from receipt of this order,” the CCI said in anApril 15 order.

The case pertains to one Vishal Gupta who filed a complaint against Google Inc, Google Ireland Limited and Google India Pvt Ltd alleging that Google Adwords accounts are extremely opaque and not transparent. The Adwords programme allows Google to sell keywords to advertisers and display them in the form of short ads online. The order further said, “Google’s practices prima facie stem, to a large degree, from its undisputable dominance in the online search market”.

In September 2012, the complainant’s group of companies had resolved to set up a remote technology support business and an Adwords account was opened and activated on January 2013. Gupta alleged that several remote tech support companies, including his firm, had been suspended from the Adwords programme to promote Google’s own activities in an unfair, discriminatory and uncompetitive manner.

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