August 13, 2012

Google Falls Under Antitrust Allegations In India

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Google can add India to the list of countries where it's under investigation for antitrust issues. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) received information about violations of an Indian competition rule, Reuters Reports.

The case against Google was filed by R.P.N. Singh, minister of state for corporate affairs in India. Details of the allegations were not disclosed.

Google spokesperson Paroma Roy Chowdhury sent a statement to Reuters in response to the antitrust investigation. "We're confident that our products are compliant with competition law in India," she told Reuters. Chowdhury said Google is cooperating with the CCI.

The CCI has targeted 12 of India's biggest cement companies and auto manufacturers, among other businesses, with anti-competitive practice charges in recent months. Reuters reports that the cases against cement companies amounted to more than $1 billion in fines.

As of June 30 of this year, the CCI had closed 26 cases for the quarter. The CCI still had 91 cases pending and in various stages of review at that point, according to the CCI's quarterly newsletter. Broken down by sector, 6 percent of CCI's anti-trust cases fell in the information technology and telecoms sector.

In India, the CCI works under the Competition Act, which allows the group to pursue anti-competition violations. The firm can impose penalties of up to 10 percent of the average turnover for the business for the three preceding years. In the case of a cartel, the Commission may impose on each member a penalty of up to three times its profits or up to 10 percent of its turnover, whichever is higher, for each year an agreement was active.

The complaint against Google stems from information the CCI received.

India is not the first country to bring antitrust allegations against Google. The search giant is currently under investigation in the U.S. and Europe, notes an article on ZDNet. The article also states that in a recent 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Google disclosed that it was under investigation in Argentina and South Korea as well.

In India Google has offices in Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bangalore. Google's Hyderabad office runs a sales team that works with small and medium-sized businesses and advertisers. Google also has a user operations and policy team in its Hyderabad offices, which "makes sure that all our products include only quality content, protecting users from account hijacking, spam, and improper search results," it says on Google Hyderabad's recruitment site. A team of engineers is also stationed in Hyderabad. The engineer team has worked on global products including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Maps, and productivity tools for other properties within Google. The engineers also work to adapt Google products for local markets.

India has the second largest user base for Google Plus users. The country falls second with 13.69 percentof Google Plus users. The U.S. accounts for 31.49 percent of Google Plus users. Three of the top 10 cities where Google Plus users are from are in India. Bangalore ranks 1, Hyderabad ranks 4, and Kolkata ranks 8 among all cities. That's according to a report from Ethinos Digital Marketing released in May.