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Antitrust Case Against Google

  • 28 May 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has started looking into allegations against the Alphabet Inc’s Google.

  • According to the allegations, Google is abusing its market position to unfairly promote its mobile payments app (Google Pay) in the country.

Key Points

  • The complaint alleges the USA tech giant more prominently showcases its Google Pay app inside its Android app store in India, giving it an unfair advantage over apps of competitors.
    • Google Pay allows users to do digital transactions, inter-bank fund transfers and bill payments.
    • It competes with Softbank-backed Paytm and Walmart’s PhonePe, both of which are prominently used in India.
    • Facebook’s WhatsApp is also planning a similar service in the near future.
  • Google has not responded to the allegations yet and is expected to respond in due course.
  • The CCI can direct its investigations unit to conduct a wider probe into the allegations or dismiss the case if it finds no merit in it. Google will appear before the CCI, which will then decide on the way forward.
  • This is Google’s third major antitrust challenge in India.
    • In 2018, the CCI fined Google $21 million for ‘search bias’.
      • It was alleged that Google was indulging in abuse of a dominant position in the market for online search through practices leading to search bias and search manipulation, among others.
    • In 2019, the CCI started probing Google for allegedly misusing its dominant position to reduce the ability of smartphone manufacturers to opt for alternate versions of its Android mobile operating system.

Antitrust Law

  • Antitrust law, also referred to as Competition law, aims to protect trade and commerce from unfair restraints, monopolies and price-fixing.
  • It ensures that fair competition exists in an open-market economy.
  • The Competition Act, 2002 is India’s antitrust law. It repealed and replaced the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) on the recommendations of the Raghavan committee.

The Competition Act, 2002

  • It was passed in 2002 and was amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007. It follows the philosophy of modern competition laws.
  • The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations, which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
  • In accordance with the provisions of the Amendment Act, the Competition Commission of India and the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) were established.
  • The government replaced COMPAT with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in 2017.

Competition Commission of India

  • It is a statutory body responsible for enforcing the objectives of the Competition Act, 2002.
  • Composition: A Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
  • Objectives:
    • To eliminate practices having adverse effects on competition.
    • Promote and sustain competition.
    • Protect the interests of consumers.
    • Ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
  • The Commission is also required to give an 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.

Source: TH

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