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India antitrust panel will scrutinize Google's in-app charging amid conflict with startups

A logo of Google is visible on its office building in Hyderabad, India, January 29, 2024

NEW DELHI/BENGALURU, March 15 (mod1s) - India's antitrust regulator on Friday ordered an inquiry into Alphabet Inc's Google (GOOGL.O), opening fresh page in an ongoing battle with local entrepreneurs over its in-app pricing system, claiming the U.S. corporation executed its rules in a "discriminatory manner". 

Indian businesses have been at conflict with Google for months over the price it collects for in-app payments. 

The disagreement intensified earlier this month as Google deleted more than 100 Indian applications from its app store for infractions relating to billing, but it reinstated them after the Indian government intervened.

The startups had urged the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to investigate into the problem and the watchdog on Friday launched a probe, saying: "Google is implementing its policies in a discriminatory manner". 

The CCI also asked its investigative section to conclude the inquiry within 60 days. 

"We are examining CCI's order initiating the investigation," a Google representative said in an emailed comment to Reuters, adding that the business would assist with the process "in every way".

The case revolves on attempts by several Indian entrepreneurs to prohibit Google from imposing a charge of 11% to 26% on in-app payments, after the country's antitrust regulators ordered it to dismantle a system of collecting 15% to 30% in 2022. 

Google disputes wrongdoing and claims it collects the fee for sustaining investments in Google Play app store and the Android mobile operating system, guaranteeing it distributes it for free. 

The CCI has previously spent months investigating into startups' concern that Google is not implementing the prior antitrust ruling that forbids it from taking unfavorable steps against firms who utilize other billing methods.


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