CCI orders probe against Google for alleged misuse of domineering position
– World Affairs SRS
“In a well-functioning democracy, the vital role played by the news media cannot be underestimated, and the need to ensure that digital concierge firms are competitive to determine fair distribution of revenue among all stakeholders. Let’s not abuse our dominant position to harm the process,” the CCI said.
It said that the Commission is of the prima facie view that Google has violated the provisions of Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 which deals with abuse of dominant position.
The order comes on a complaint filed by Digital News Publishers Association, a private company that promotes and protects the interests of digital news publishers.
It had filed complaints against Alphabet Inc., Google LLC, Google India Pvt Ltd and Google Ireland Ltd.
The association stated that most of the traffic to news websites comes from online search engines and claimed Google to be the most prominent search engine.
It said that more than 50 percent of the total traffic to news websites is routed through Google and being the major player, Google, through its algorithms, determines which news websites get discovered through search.
In addition, Google is a major stakeholder in the digital advertising sector and unilaterally decides the amount to be paid to publishers for the content they create, as well as the terms on which the above amount is to be paid.
It further said that the members of the association have to suffer loss of advertising revenue and inability to deal in fair share in the value chain of news dissemination inspite of creating and working with credible news.
It said online digital advertising intermediation services lack transparency, making it difficult for publishers to audit and verify the advertising revenue generated on their websites.
“No doubt, Google, being the gateway, generates substantial traffic for news publishers, but at the same time, the bargaining power imbalance and denial of a fair share in advertising revenue, as alleged by the informant, deserves a detailed inquiry,” the commission said.
According to the regulator, there is a need to examine whether Google imposes any discriminatory bets or pricing on various news publishers.
Google has unilaterally decided that publishers of news will not be paid for the snippets they use in search engine results.
There is a need to examine whether the use of news snippets by Google is a result of a bargaining power imbalance between Google on the one hand and news publishers on the other, and whether it affects the referral traffic of news publisher websites, and thus, their monetization. Capabilities.
The CCI noted that in France and Australia, Google has been asked to enter into goodwill negotiations with news publishers for paid licenses for content over a bargaining power imbalance between the two and to enforce unfair terms as a result.
The regulator has directed its investigation wing, the Director General (DG), to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit the investigation report within 60 days.
It added that “nothing contained in this order shall amount to an expression of final opinion on the merits of the case, and the DG shall conduct the investigation without being in any way affected by the observations made herein”.
(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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