Friday, May 16, 2014

India Opens Second Google Antitrust Investigation Over AdWords

Google is in the midst of an antitrust, anti-competition investigation in India. Not long ago, the company was fined by the  Competition Commission of India (CCI) for not cooperating in that investigation: “not providing information and documents required.”
Now a separate anti-competition investigation has been opened with the CCI. In that investigation an individual, Vishal Gupta, has complained about suspension of an AdWords account:
The complainant had 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.
According to the CCI, the investigation is required to determine the nature and extent of problems that prompted Google to take actions against the RTS industry and whether or not the termination of the AdWords account was legitimate.
The CCI apparently cannot settle these claims in the manner of the FTC or European Commission. It must find a violation or exonerate Google. There doesn’t appear to be any procedural middle ground.
Should the CCI find Google to be in violation of antitrust rules and, vaguely, the country’s “competition norms,” it could fine Mountain View up to $5 billion. It also has power to seek a  breakup of the company, although that’s extremely remote as a possible outcome.
The plaintiff in the new anti-competition filing is expressing anger and frustration over a lack of “transparency” from Google. This is one of the consistent themes of various complaints against Google around the world — that the company’s business practices are “opaque.”

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