The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a provisional penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore ($162 million) on Google for “abusing its market dominant position” in multiple categories related to the Android mobile device ecosystem in the country.

 

What is the issue?

  • According to CCI, Google manages the Android operating system as well as other licences, which gives it advantage over its competitors to pre-install most prominent search entry points such as search apps, widget and Chrome browser on Android devices.
  • Further, Google also secured a significant competitive edge in relation to its other revenue earning apps like YouTube in the Android devices.

 

What did the CCI tell Google?

  • The CCI issued cease and desist directions to the tech giant on a number of its business practices. For instance, it said that Google should not deny access to its Play Services plugins to “disadvantaged” original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and the licensing of Play Store to OEMs should not be linked to the requirement of pre-installing Google search, Chrome browser, YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail or any other Google application.
  • The CCI also said that Google will have to allow users to choose their default search engine during the initial device setup. It asked Google not to restrict the ability of app developers to distribute their apps through side-loading – offering their apps outside of Google’s Play Store. This is significant since Google has, for long, cautioned users against side-loading apps, calling it a potential security threat.

 

About ‘Competition Commission of India’ –

  • The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, follows the philosophy of modern competition laws. The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
  • The objectives of the Act are sought to be achieved through the Competition Commission of India, which has been established by the Central Government with effect from 14th October 2003.
  • CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government (not less than 2 members). It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.