Consumer rights body CUTS takes Google to competition panel

Business Line, June 14, 2012

Consumer rights activist Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) has filed a complaint against search engine Google with the Competition Commission of India for abuse of dominant position and anti-competitive practices.

The complaint by CUTS comes shortly after matchmaking site BharatMatrimony took Google to the competition watchdog on similar lines.

“Our complaint is intended to investigate whether Google has been using its market power in search engines and online advertising to affect growth of Indian search market,” Mr Pradeep Mehta, Secretary-General, CUTS told Business Line.

Abuse of position

CUTS filed a complaint on June 6 alleging violation of Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act, 2002, which deal with anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position.

The matrimonial site had complained to the CCI that the search engine had abused its dominance by engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory practices relating to AdWords. CCI is probing the matter for discriminatory practice.

In its Preliminary Information Report (PIL) submitted to the competition watchdog, CUTS said that being a neutral party with the objective to protect consumers interest, it had wanted to ensure that the markets remain competitive and benefit consumers.

Large number of cases

Mr Mehta said that globally too a large number of cases on abuse of dominant position is being investigated against Google.

According to reports, in 2011, the advertising segment comprised 96 per cent of Google’s $38-billion revenue.

The AdWords programme is Google’s main source of revenue, whereby it sells keywords to advertisers and displays them in the form of ads online.

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