CUTS urges CCI to investigate potential misuse by Google

Economic Times, August 24, 2011

NEW DELHI: Consumer rights activist CUTS has urged competition watchdog CCI to investigate potential misuse of dominant position by search engine giant Google Inc in the Indian internet space.

According to CUTS, Competition Commission of India (CCI) should ensure that Google does not use its dominance in the search engine/online advertising markets to affect the growth of Indian search and advertising space, as well as related fast growing e-commerce markets like online shopping and travel sites.

“In addition that Google does not undertake anti- competitive mergers which harm the growth of Indian e-commerce or online advertising,” CUTS said in a statement today.

When contacted, Google denied having received any communication but said, “We would like to point out that Google does not have a monopoly in search. We may be the most popular search engine but past success is no guarantee of future results.

“Users aren’t locked in to using Google search. The cost of switching to a different search engine is zero and most users use multiple search engines on a regular basis”.

CUTS also said that worldwide, Google has been widely criticised by online travel sites (like Expedia, Kayak) and local business review sites, who also claim that Google promotes links to its own services such as local business information depriving their sites of potential traffic.

Google also pointed out that according to a study by Forrester, globally 55 per cent of internet users use multiple search engines each week, and only 20 per cent of users said they use only Google.

Another study, by Cowen & Company in 2009, Google accounted for about 3 per cent of all advertising revenue.

CUTS said, however, that Google is currently under investigation in several jurisdictions around the world including the US (by the Federal Trade Commission), the EU (by the European Commission) and the Attorney General of the State of Texas and some others.

Google is the largest search engine in the world as also in India. Most users of the internet in India, now numbering about 100 million, are regular users of Google. The Indian internet, search and advertising market is potentially the largest market in the world, CUTS said.


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