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Now India probes Google, threatens $1bn fine over 'biased' search

Ad giant accused of rigging results to squeeze out rivals

Google has confirmed to The Register it is being probed in India over allegations that it unfairly promotes its own services over rivals in web search results.

The California goliath faces a fine up to $1.4bn – a tenth of its annual profit – if it is found to have broken monopoly laws in the country.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) opened an investigation into the ad giant after its rivals complained that they were being unsportingly squeezed out of Google's search results. Last week, the CCI director-general drew up a report summarizing the allegations, and put it to Google.

The tech biz's search engine – which used by about 90 per cent of India's netizens – is facing similar accusations in Europe, and previously in the US.

"We're currently reviewing the report from the CCI's ongoing investigation," a Google spokesperson told The Register on Monday. "We continue to work closely with the CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India's competition laws."

According to Indian daily broadsheet the Economic Times, rivals including Facebook and retailer Flipkart griped that competing Google services receive higher placement in results.

In total, according to the ET, 30 companies have filed complaints against Google, alleging violation of competition laws both with its regular search results and sponsored links.

The process remains in the early stages. Google has until 10 September to file its response to the report, and its executives will meet the CCI commission on 17 September. The ET notes that such cases can involve "several hearings" before a decision is given on whether to proceed with charges.

Apparently, Microsoft is one of the biggest backers of the investigation. The ET notes that Microsoft has made an "extensive submission" to the CCI.

Google and Microsoft are direct competitors in a number of markets, not the least among those search, where Google competes with Microsoft's Bing.

Microsoft did not return a request for comment.

The Windows giant has in the past pushed for antitrust actions against Google. The Redmond giant was among the 19 companies who earlier this year complained to the EU that Google was violating European antitrust laws. ®

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