Google accused of rigging search results, this time by India

For Google, if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Last week, the company submitted its objections to Europe’s antitrust charges about its search practices. This week, Google is facing new accusations: The Indian competition commission says Google is rigging search results, according to the Economic Times.

Google is accused of favoring its own services in search results. The ET mentions a couple of examples: Google Finance links supposedly get priority over a competing provider of stock market searches; and Google Hotels gets preference over other travel portals “that may have higher traffic.”

The commission also says the placement of Google’s sponsored links depends on how much money companies spend on advertising. This charge is backed by Indian e-commerce company Flipkart, which is among the 30 businesses that responded to the commission’s inquiry into Google’s practices. Other companies include Facebook, Nokia’s maps division and others, plus a familiar foe. That would be Microsoft, which as we’ve written was one of the loudest voices in the chorus of complaints that led to Europe’s antitrust action against Google.

According to the ET, Google faces fines of up to 10 percent of its income if found guilty by the Indian commission. The commission is giving the company until Sept. 10 to submit a response.

A Google spokeswoman told SiliconBeat in an email: “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.” She also pointed out that the Indian commission’s findings are at an early stage and “will be followed by rounds of hearings and potentially appeals — we are not at the [statement of objections] stage. This report is from the investigative arm, not the commissioner.”

In 2013, Google settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission regarding similar accusations: that Google was favoring its own offerings in search results. Other countries have also cleared Google of similar issues detailed in India’s report.

 

Photo from AFP/Getty Images

 

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