Internet: New dictator? – UPSC GS3

Internet Giants like Google, Facebook etc. manipulating what we like, what we shop etc. by feeding us promoted content. EU slapped fine on Google.
  • According to the European regulators, Google has abused its market dominance by offering an illegal advantage to its another product, its comparison shopping service.
  • The fine of 2.42 billion euro is the biggest fine for a single company in an EU antitrust case.
  • EU’s action has come after a 7 year-long investigation from the complaints received from Google’s rivals such like Yelp, TripAdvisor, UK price comparison site Foundem, News Corp and lobbying group FairSearch.
  • The EU has asked Google to stop its anti-competitive practice in 90 days or be prepared to face penalty payments up to 5% of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover.
CCI on Google Case:
  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed Rs.136 crore fine on world’s most popular search engine Google for unfair business practices in Indian market for online search.
  • The penalty was imposed on Google for infringing anti-trust conduct.
  • CCI held that Google was found to be indulged in practices of search bias and by doing so it has caused harm to its competitors as well as to users.
  • It also held that Google was leveraging its dominance in market for online general web search, to strengthen its position in market for online syndicate search service.
  • The penalty amount imposed translates to 5% of company’s average total revenue generated from India operations from its different business segments for financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015.
  • CCI passed the penalty order on complaints filed in 2012 by and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in 2012.
  • CCI’s ruling comes after similar anti-trust setbacks for Google in European Union and Russia. In 2017, in similar case EU’s anti-trust arm had fined Google $2.7 billion for promoting its own products over others.
  • Google also had settled an anti-trust matter in Russia out of court.
Google-EU Case Timeline (Not important, given for understanding only)
  • November 2010: The EU opened its formal inquiry to ascertain whether  Google manipulates search results in a way that favours its own business.
  • April 2013:  Google came forward to change its practice in the hope of ending the EU investigation.
  • July-December 2013: EU rejected Google’s offer to change its search results as not good enough.
  • February 2014: A tentative agreement was reached between the EU and Google on how to fix the search results.
  • May 2014: In a separate case, the European Court of Justice had asked Google on the plea of EU citizens’ to remove irrelevant or embarrassing personal information that is being served on a search of their names.
  • September 2014: Acting upon the complaints of Google’s competitors, the EU made a U-turn on its settlement with Google on search results.
  • April 2015: EU formally charged Google and opened a preliminary investigation to ascertain whether Google used its Android mobile operating system to rig the market for apps.
  • June 2017: The EU has slapped Google a record 2.42 billion euros ($2.72 billion) for breaching antitrust rules with its online shopping service.

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