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Google Facing $5B Fine in India
Google Facing $5B Fine in India

By Seth Fitzgerald
March 10, 2014 1:09PM

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Antitrust lawsuits against Google are not uncommon and many have been based around the firm’s control of the search engine market. Now the Competition Commission of India is going after Google for $5 billion for antitrust violations. But this time Google can't fight back -- the Competition Commission of India doesn't have a settlement process.
 



Search giant Google has just resolved a major antitrust case in the European Union but its legal troubles are far from over as India looks to fine the company $5 billion. Much like the EU case, and others that have popped up around the world, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) says that it is investigating the tech company for violating certain antitrust laws that are meant to protect competition.

For two years CCI has looked into claims from Google’s competitors and other Internet businesses suggesting that the the company is abusing its position within the country. If CCI finds Google guilty of violating certain national laws, it would face a fine equivalent to 10 percent of its annual revenue for three years, which comes to nearly $5 billion.

Finding Evidence

The case against Google is currently building within India’s legal system. CCI has just announced that it is in possession of potentially incriminating evidence and will now turn the case over to the Director General, the watchdog's investigations arm, to carry out a more in-depth analysis of the situation.

Since the initial complaints against Google came from third-party sources and not from the Indian government, the Director General is considering comments from Google’s competitors while evaluating the search engine’s business practices. Once a full report has been created by the Director General, it will be turned back over to CCI, which will provide a final verdict.

No Settlement Process

Antitrust lawsuits against Google are not uncommon and many of them have been based around the company’s control of the search engine market. The main difference between the high-profile cases that have surfaced in the past and the one in India is that Google will not be able to fight back this time. While the billion-dollar antitrust case in the EU dealt with nearly identical claims, Google was able to voice its opinion and offer solutions, but CCI does not have a settlement process.

Without a formal objection or settlement process, Google will be forced to deal with whatever ruling CCI puts forward, which would force Google to pay a fine or suffer restrictions on its business within the country. Given the size of the Indian market and Google’s 97% market share, losing its grip on the country may not be a viable option, making this antitrust case a tricky one for the company.

Google told the Press Trust of India that it is “extending full co-operation to the Competition Commission of India in their investigation," while also making sure to point out the FTC’s 2013 decision that Google is not violating antitrust laws in the U.S. Even though the FTC examined complaints similar to those that have been submitted to the CCI, certain laws are harsher in regions outside of the U.S., and the antitrust case in the EU has also shown that some of Google’s business practices may indeed be questionable.
 

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