Google files writ in Delhi HC against CCI alleging confidential report leak

Topics Google | Delhi High Court | CCI

The report also called Play Store policies “one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary”, while Android continued to enjoy its dominant position among operating systems for smartphones and tablets since 2011
Google has filed a writ petition with the Delhi High Court against the Competition Commission of India (CCI) following the alleged leak of a confidential report that relates to the competition regulator’s ongoing investigation into the dominance of the search engine’s Android operating system.

On September 18, a confidential interim fact-finding report submitted by the CCI director general’s office to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) relating to an ongoing investigation into Google’s Android smartphone agreements was leaked to the press, the technology giant has said.

Google has not yet received or reviewed this confidential report.

The news story being referred to said the DG’s report found the American search and tech giant “guilty of adopting anti-competitive, unfair and restrictive trade practices in the mobile operating system and related markets”.

On Thursday, Google filed the writ petition seeking redress in this matter, specifically protesting the breach of confidence, which impairs Google’s ability to defend itself and harms its and its partners.

“We are deeply concerned that the Director General’s Report, which contains our confidential information in an ongoing case, was leaked to the media while in the CCI’s custody. Protecting confidential information is fundamental to any governmental investigation, and we are pursuing our legal right to seek redress and prevent any further unlawful disclosures. We cooperated fully and maintained confidentiality throughout the investigative process, and we hope and expect the same level of confidentiality from the institutions we engage with,” said a Google spokesperson.

The DG’s findings do not reflect the final decision of the CCI and the submission of the report is an interim procedural step. Google has not yet had the opportunity to review the DG’s findings, much less submit its defence of any allegations, the firm said in its statement.

The CCI did not respond to a request for comment.

The case pertains to an investigation the CCI started in 2019 against Google for allegedly abusing its dominant position to force app makers to exclusively use its billing system for in-app purchases and bundling the search giant’s payments app with Android smartphones sold in India.

According to industry estimates, the Android market share is 97-98 per cent.

The 750-page report, according to news stories, said the mandatory pre-installation of apps amounted to imposing unfair conditions on device manufacturers and violated India’s competition law.

The report also called Play Store policies “one-sided, ambiguous, vague, biased and arbitrary”, while Android continued to enjoy its dominant position among operating systems for smartphones and tablets since 2011.

There has been a growing chorus against some of Google Play Store’s practices among India’s developers. Things came to a head last year when Google said it would charge a 30 per cent commission on in-app purchases and developers would have to use only Google’s payment gateway.

In March this year, Google Play revised that policy and said it would slash its 30 per cent billing fee to 15 per cent for developers globally when they made the first $1 million of their annual revenue. However, many developers were still unhappy. 

In 2018, the European Commission fined Google 4.34 billion euros ($5 billion) for breaching the European Union’s antitrust rules. Earlier this month, South Korea’s antitrust regulator fined Google $177 million for allegedly throttling competition by using its dominant position in the mobile operating system segment. 

In June this year, the CCI launched another antitrust probe against Google over the alleged dominance of its Android Operating System in the Smart TV market in India.

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