India accuses Google of rigging search results for its own benefit

Pic: AP.

Pic: AP.

An investigation into whether Google has been abusing its dominance of Internet search to stifle competition in India is moving into its next phase in India.

The preliminary findings of the three-year-old probe have been submitted to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and to Google.

The inquiry revolved around complaints filed by several websites contending that Google has been unfairly highlighting its own services in its influential search results at the expense of its rivals.

Flipkart, Facebook, Nokia’s maps division, and several other companies have reportedly corroborated complaints that Google abused its dominant market position.

The allegations, which say search outcomes are rigged on both search results and sponsored links, are similar to other accusations of illegal self-promotion in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world.

Google was fined US$166,000 last year for failing to respond with the probe, but could be fined up to 10 percent of its revenue this time around.

Google has until Sept. 10 to respond to the preliminary findings in India, although that deadline could be extended.

Google, which says it’s confident it will be cleared of wrongdoing, regularly tweaks its search outcomes and claims this is done to deliver the best possible outcomes for end users, a claim often disputed by anti-trust bodies.

A Google spokesperson said: “We’re currently reviewing this report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation. We continue to work closely with the CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India’s competition laws.”

The company is also facing allegations of misconduct in Europe.

Additional reporting from Associated Press