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Indian watchdog fines Google £15.3m for "search bias"

Tim Maytom

The Competition Commission of India (CCI), the country's antitrust watchdog, has fined Google 1.36bn rupees (£15.3m) for abusing its dominant position, the latest in a string of regulatory steps various governments have taken to limit the search giant's power.

The CCI found that Google was using its position in both the online web search and online search advertising markets to the detriment of competitors and customers, with particular focus put on the company's commercial flight search function.

"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," said the CCI in a 190-page order. "Google was leveraging its domanance in the market for online general web search to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services."

The ruling ends a probe that was begun in 20212, following complaints filed by non-profit organisation Consumer Unity and Trust Society and matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony. A Google spokesperson has said the company is reviewing the "narrow concerns" that the Commission has identified and will assess its next steps.

"We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users," said the spokesperson. "The Competition Commission of India has confirmed that, on the majority of issues it examined, our conduct complies with Indian competition laws."

The fine is the latest in a string of antritrust setbacks for Alphabet and Google. Last year, the European Commission imposed a record 2.4bn (£2.13bn) fine on the firm for favouring its shopping service and demoting rivals. Google is appealing against this ruling.