Days after reports appeared that the a probe by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found Google India guilty of adopting anti-competitive, unfair and restrictive trade practices in the mobile operating system and related markets, the tech giant has moved the Delhi High Court against the anti-trust body over alleged leaking of the ‘confidential’ report to the media.
In a statement, Google India said that on September 18, 2021, a confidential interim fact-finding report submitted by the Director General’s office to the CCI relating to an ongoing investigation into Google’s Android smartphone agreements was leaked to the media, while Google has not yet received or reviewed the confidential report.
Google has today filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court seeking redress in this matter, protesting against “the breach of confidence which impairs Google’s ability to defend itself and harms Google 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,” said a Google spokesperson.
Observing that protecting confidential information is fundamental to any governmental investigation, the spokesperson said that the tech major is pursuing its 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,” the spokesperson said.
As per the company, the Director General’s findings do not reflect the final decision of the CCI and the submission of the investigation 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, it added.
In the report, reviewed by TOI, the probe found Google India guilty of stifling competition and innovation that affects the market as well as consumers through dominating the internet search, music (YouTube), browser (chrome), app library (Play Store) and other key services.
Accused of imposing and forcing one-sided contracts, on devices as well as app-makers, the CCI probe has charged Google India guilty of a variety of charges, including abuse of dominance, denial of market access to search apps competitors, among others.
Google is facing antitrust probes in many countries — the US, the European Union (EU), Japan, Germany — across the globe, South Korea became the first nation to pass a bill to rein in the dominance that Google and Apple exert over the payments on their app stores. Further, South Korea also slapped a fine of $177 Mn on Google for abusing its market dominance.
Google has also been previously fined £3.8 Bn by the EU over Android antitrust violations.
The Indian anti-trust body has over the past few years ordered numerous probes into Google’s abuse of dominance in India in various segments.