Indian authorities started investigating Google over antitrust complaints

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According to a recent report from Reuters, Competition Commission of India (CCI) has officially started investigating Google over antitrust complaints. While the report has not revealed the details about the specific complaints, it did say it is similar to those filed by the European Union.

The investigation will look into Google for allegedly abusing the dominant position of its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals, two sources aware of the matter told Reuters.

Earlier this year, European Union officials said Google forced manufacturers to preinstall Search and Chrome, hurting competition from alternative browsers and search providers. It resulted in the European Commission fining 4.34 billion euro (US$5 billion) fine on Google and forced the company to prompt EU Android users to choose their default browsers and search engines.

Rumors of an investigation by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) first began circulating in February, and now the organization has decided there was merit in the accusations made in the complaint and (reportedly) ordered its investigation unit to launch a full probe, one of the sources with direct knowledge of the matter said. The process could take around a year, one source told Reuters, and the CCI could end up clearing Google of all charges. The amount of fine that can be imposed on Google if the CCI rules against it were not immediately clear.

A Google spokesperson said Android has enabled millions of Indians to connect to the internet by making mobile devices more affordable. Google looked forward to working with the CCI “to demonstrate how Android has led to more competition and innovation, not less”, the spokesperson said in a statement.

The current investigation, however, is not the only antitrust trouble for Google in India. Last year, the CCI imposed a fine of 1.36 billion rupees ($19.46 million) on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position. It also found Google had put its commercial flight search function in a prominent position on the search results page.

While some may see these complaints as silly, especially since Android allows users to change their default browser (and Chrome has multiple choices for search engines), Google does command a significant market share in India. The country is one of Google’s key markets, and Android has close to 85% smartphone market share in India.

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