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Google Appeals Against ‘Search Bias’ Verdict by India’s Competition Commission

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Google has filed an appeal against the judgement by Competition Commission of India (CCI), which found the search engine guilty of “search bias.”

“We disagree with aspects of the CCI’s decision, so we have filed an appeal and sought a stay on those findings,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

The commission’s verdict was “robust” and it plans on defending its judgement at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), a CCI official said, according to Reuters. CCI imposed a fine of Rs 1.36 billion ($20.95 million) on Google in February, saying that the internet firm was ill-treating its dominance in online web search and online search advertising markets.

“Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users,” the CCI stated in its judgment, Reuters reported.

After the verdict came out, Google had said that the issues brought up by the CCI were “narrow concerns.” It added that the order showed that on most issues examined by the CCI, Google’s conduct was in compliance with the competition laws of India.

The investigation was started by the CCI in 2012 after complaints were filed by Bharat Matrimony (Matrimony.com) and Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), a not-for-profit organization. The ruling in February brought an end to the probe.

Matrimony.com is, however, not satisfied with the verdict. It filed an appeal against the size of the fine, saying it is too small. It has also filed an appeal against CCI’s verdict that neither of the two — Google’s specialized search design and its advertising service, AdWords — were breaching the competition rules.

Murugavel Janakiraman, the founder-CEO of Matrimony.com, said that the company has filed an appeal against CCI’s order, although the judgement is in their  company’s favor, according to the Business Standard. Earlier, however, Janakiraman was full of praises about CCI’s verdict and had said, “This order is significant as the CCI recognizes that Google is the gatekeeper to the internet and has a special responsibility to ensure a level playing field.”

The duties of the CCI, established by the Indian government in October 2003, involve eliminating practices that have an adverse effect on competition, protecting the interests of consumers, and ensuring freedom of trade in Indian markets.

In 2017, the European Commission imposed a fine of 2.4 billion euro ($3 billion) on Google for backing its shopping service and demoting offerings from rival companies. Google has filed an appeal against the judgement.