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CCI Probes Google Amid Indian In-App Billing Dispute

India's antitrust authority launched an investigation into Alphabet Inc's Google, delving into a heated standoff
March 18, 2024

In a significant development, India's antitrust authority has initiated an investigation into Alphabet Inc.'s Google following ongoing tensions with local startups regarding its in-app billing practices. The probe comes amid allegations that Google has implemented its policies unfairly, sparking a clash with Indian startups over the fees charged for in-app payments.

The dispute, which has been simmering for months, reached a boiling point recently when Google removed over 100 Indian apps from its app store due to billing violations, only to reinstate them following government intervention. This move prompted startups to petition the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to intervene, leading to Friday's directive ordering an investigation into Google's alleged discriminatory practices.

The CCI's decision underscores the seriousness of the matter, with its investigation unit mandated to complete the probe within 60 days. In response, Google has stated its willingness to cooperate fully with the investigation, emphasizing its commitment to transparency and fair practices.

At the heart of the dispute lies Google's imposition of fees ranging from 11% to 26% on in-app payments, a move contested by Indian startups seeking to circumvent what they perceive as an unjust financial burden. Google, however, maintains that these fees are essential to support investments in its app store and the Android ecosystem, ensuring the continued availability of these services.

This investigation marks the latest chapter in a longstanding saga between Google and Indian startups, with previous antitrust directives failing to resolve underlying tensions. As both parties dig in their heels, the outcome of this investigation could have far-reaching implications for the tech landscape in India and beyond.

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