Google penalty: Regulator doesn't see 'search' as free service anymore

The recognition of the concept of 'Big Data' by the regulator is an important development from a regulatory perspective.

By Avimukt Dar  
Friday, February 9, 2018

The recognition of the concept of 'Big Data' by the regulator is an important development from a regulatory perspective. The CCI (Competition Commission of India) has acknowledged the changing technological landscape, and does not see 'search' as a free service. It has directly related the aggregation and analytics of the user data to revenues after improvement in targeted advertising as well as AI-based innovations.

While Google argued the relevant turnover would be the segmental turnover of only those verticals where anti-competitive practices were determined, the CCI has taken into account the analytics of 'Big Data' from one vertical augmenting the search results (whether advertisement based or otherwise) across other verticals as well.

Despite taking a couple of hits in terms of being declared anti-competitive in relation to its display of Commercial Flight Units and search intermediation agreements with different publishers, there are many wins for Google as well, notably that its user interface and current practices will remain substantially unchanged with only a disclaimer being required in flight box and relaxation of the exclusivity covenant in search syndication deals. The penalty of 5 per cent in India turnover amounting to Rs 136 crore is unlikely to pose a major cost to the search giant. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in future as both parties are likely to appeal against the 4-2 order decision.

Avimukt Dar is a Partner at IndusLaw

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