google fine: CCI’s Google commands should serve as a model for Big Tech

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The Competition Commission of India’s orders in two separate Google cases this month should serve as a model for the future, with the antitrust regulator clearly setting out expected remedies in its “cease and desist” orders. refrain”.

The Commission has provided detailed information on the company’s do’s and don’ts, ruling that the US tech giant has abused its dominance over Play Store, its interface for apps and the Android mobile phone operating system.

This new approach by the anti-trust regulator aims to avoid protracted litigation from digital platforms and extract faster remedies, people familiar with the matter said.

They are also meant to guide digital businesses on activities that may be considered anti-competitive.

When the competition regulator finds that an entity is violating competition rules, it typically imposes a monetary penalty on the entity and issues what is known as a “cease and desist” order, requesting the entity to refrain from anti-competitive practices in the future.

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Cease and desist orders are general instructions which in the past have not detailed the corrective measures required.

In both of these Google cases, CCI provided the company with a specific list of actions along with the “cease and desist” order.

Earlier this week, CCI found Google ‘Play Store’ in breach of antitrust rules and
fined entity owned by Alphabet Inc Rs 936 crore. In its order, the TCC also suggested eight specific remedies, including several billing options for app developers.

On October 20, CCI issued another order against Google’s Android operating system for phones,
imposing a penalty of Rs 1337 crore on the company. Also in that order, CCI recommended nearly a dozen corrective actions for the company.

With such precise instructions, there is now no room for interpretation, people said. In addition, if the case is appealed, each point raised by the company must be argued.

A senior ICC official told ET that Google’s order clearly set out the specific violations and remedies to be taken.

“The company cannot whitewash the problem by taking small corrective actions. He must respect each of the measures recommended by CCI. This was the idea behind the specific policy prescriptions,” the official said.

“The order is black and white, therefore, if appealed to a higher court, the company will have to counter every point raised by CCI.”

An email sent to CCI went unanswered.

In an official statement on Wednesday, Google said it was reviewing the TCC order to assess next steps.

Digital platforms have widely used the route of judicial intervention to curb ICC investigations, a person familiar with the ICC thinking said. While companies have the right to appeal any arbitration order, digital companies facing ICC investigations are moving the courts long before final orders, in some cases seeking to suspend the investigation itself.

While the courts overwhelmingly ruled in favor of CCI, these disputes delayed the investigation.

“By giving the ad hoc details, CCI has reduced the scope for interpretation or the ability to make unrelated arguments in appeals,” a second person said.

CCI is currently investigating Google in at least two other cases. Other tech companies, including Apple, Amazon and Meta, are also facing various ICC investigations for alleged abuse of market dominance.

“Google’s order should also serve as a guidance note for other digital platforms that breach competition rules,” said the senior CCI official quoted above.

“These platforms must study the spirit of the order and understand what practices can be interpreted as anti-competitive and what transparency measures must be taken to avoid any potential investigation in the future.”

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