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Google’s Recent Updates On Complying With CCI Orders Is A Complete Hogwash, Says ADIF

Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), a national policy thinktank working to provide a level-playing field to Indian startups, says that Google is attempting to muddle the CCI orders

Google’s Recent Updates On Complying With CCI Orders Is A Complete Hogwash, Says ADIF
POSTED ON February 06, 2023 2:59 PM

Google has been at a crossroads due to its non-transparent policies and abuse of dominance in certain practices, especially in markets of web search, mobile web browsers, online video hosting platforms and licensable operating systems (OS) for smartphone devices. Competition Commission of India (CCI) in its two separate orders in October 2022, had given Google three months time to comply with the remedies provided in the order, which had to comply with the latest by January 25, 2022.

Google attempted to delay the remedies by appealing to the Supreme Court (SC) seeking a stay on the directions given by the CCI on Google. However, their attempt failed since the Supreme Court did not grant any stay to Google, in fact, mandated that remedies given by the CCI have to be complied with by Google by January 26.

On January 25, Google came out with a blog post saying that they have started the aspect of compliance and that they have submitted a compliance report to the CCI.

On a close look at the blog post, it can be seen that quite a few of the remedies have not been discussed in the blog post, leave alone complied with. Some of the remedies like (a) allowing third-party app stores on Play Store; (b) uninstalling pre-installed apps are not even discussed and complied with. Further, there is no confirmation by Google on delinking of licensing of Play Store (including Google Play Services) to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with the requirement of pre-installing Google Mobile Suite Apps or non-imposition of anti-competitive clauses on OEMs, as stated in the CCI order. Google is expectedly silent on CCI's direction for setting out a clear and transparent policy on data that is collected on its platform and restrictive use of such data to further Google’s own competitive advantage. 

These non-compliances are a direct contempt of the SC order, while at the same time taking a jibe at the Indian app developer’s effort to bring transparency and a level-playing field for all internet ecosystem stakeholders.

Further, Google has said that they will allow user-choice billing. It is imperative to note that details of said policy are missing in the blog post, however, earlier, Google had announced a user choice billing pilot, mirroring what Google tried to enforce in South Korea. The said user choice scheme is inherently anti-competitive since it was a ploy to extract huge commissions from developers even when users avail of third-party billing systems. The said user choice is under investigation by the South Korean authorities, and such attempts must be stopped here too in India in the interest of the app developer community.

ADIF, as the voice of Indian start-ups, has been an intervener in its application in Supreme Court in the Google Android bundling case and was a petitioner in the Google Play Billing case. ADIF will urge CCI to engage with stakeholders in the market viz: app developers to see whether the supposed user choice billing is in an effective remedy or another brazen attempt by Google to circumvent the law.

ADIF spokesperson shared that ADIF remains committed to supporting the entire developer ecosystem and will strive to ensure that Google does not harm the ecosystem, and will strive to engage with the CCI to ensure Google follows the remedies in letter and in spirit.

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