Google, along with Facebook, has for a while now been set to stand trial in New Delhi over failing to censor objectionable religious material from their social networking sites – only to find that justice in India moves very slowly. It was recently reported that these censorship proceedings in India were postponed again in that case, and now the Competition Commission of India (CCI) is investigating Google’s AdWords for alleged discriminatory practices. The probe is similar to another antitrust investigation in Argentina started in 2010, to determine if Google holds a dominant position in web search and ad markets that could have an adverse effect on competition.
The investigation was prompted after the CCI found that Google might have given a marriage matchmaking site called BharatMatrimony preferential keywords for ads. A senior member of the CCI states, “We have asked the Director General (Investigations) to complete the probe and give a report on it within 60 days. Prima facie, we found evidence that suggests that Google did abuse its dominant market position.” The official adds, “the increasing number of competition law complaints against Google globally suggests a pattern of anti-competitive conduct that needs to be checked in order to protect Indian businesses and consumers”.
Google has yet to respond to the allegations regarding BharatMatrimony, which is owned by a web portal called Consim. A spokesperson for the matchmaking service states, “BharatMatrimony requests that the Commission investigate Google’s practices and impose remedial measures to protect competition.”
Google’s AdWords makes up about 96% of its profits, though it might take years for any sort of actual trial to take place on the matter in India, if the CCI decides to proceed.