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India tribunal upholds $160m fine on Google

Published on 2023-06-04 16:45:01 source:NBC News

An Indian appeals court has upheld a $160m fine imposed on Google by the country's antitrust regulator in a case related to Android's market dominance.

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) said the Competition Commission of India (CCI) findings were correct and Google was liable to pay the fine.

But it set aside four of 10 antitrust directives imposed on the firm.

More than 95% of Indian smartphones use the Android system.

In October, the CCI accused Google of exploiting its dominant position and imposed the fine for "unfair" business practices.

It also asked Google to make several changes to the Android ecosystem. This included not forcing manufacturers to pre-install the entire suite of Google apps and allowing users to choose their default search engine.

The Android-related inquiry was started in 2019, following complaints by consumers of Android smartphones. The case was similar to the one Google faced in Europe, where regulators imposed a $5bn fine on the company, saying it used its Android operating system to gain unfair advantage in the market.

Google challenged the fine and the directives in India's Supreme Court, saying "no other jurisdiction has ever asked for such far-reaching changes".

It argued that the changes would force the company to alter arrangements with more than 1,100 device manufacturers and thousands of app developers.

The top court, however, refused to block the CCI directives and said that a lower court could continue hearing the appeal.

In January, Google agreed to co-operate with the watchdog and announced a series of changes to its Android system in India.

But the ruling by NCLAT means that the tech giant can stop users from removing its pre-installed apps from their phones.

Google can also continue to impose curbs on users downloading apps without using its app store and is free to block third-party app stores from its Play Store.

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