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Now India snaps on gloves, bends Google over for antitrust probe

'Competition is a click away' ad giant retorts

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Google is undergoing an antitrust investigation in India, the Competition Commission (CCI) in that country confirmed on Monday.

The Economic Times, citing sources, reported over the weekend that the CCI was readying a competition inquiry into the search giant's "alleged discriminatory practices" relating to its AdWords business.

According to that news story, an investigation was ordered following the discovery of "prima facie evidence" that allegedly showed Google had abused its dominant market position by selling advertising keywords related to dating website Bharatmatrimony.com to the site's rivals.

"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," a senior official at CCI reportedly said.

A complaint was filed with the commission by the India-based match-making website in February this year.

The AFP reported yesterday that CCI's secretary S.L. Bunker had said that the investigation would last "at least a couple of months". He added that the commission was probing the claims to see if they could be substantiated.

A separate probe into Google's business practices is already underway in the country. That inquiry is looking at claims that Mountain View may have breached domestic foreign exchange transactions regulations.

Google gave The Register this statement:

Though competition is always a click away, we understand that with success comes scrutiny. We have not received any communication from the CCI, but we're always happy to answer questions about our business, and we're confident that our products are compliant with competition law in India.

Google is getting use to regulatory scrutiny around the world as more and more companies gripe about the world's largest ad broker's business practices.

In June last year the US Federal Trade Commission formally began probing allegations that Google favours its own search products over those of its rivals. A similar but separate investigation into Google's actions has been ongoing in Brussels since November 2010, but, as we reported late last month, regulators in Europe are yet to conclude on their findings.

The European Commission confirmed to El Reg that it had once again delayed its response to just before the EU's summer break. Regulatory pressure is piling up for Google, but responses from individual watchdogs remain months away. ®

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