Google is under antitrust investigations in the US, Europe, Argentina and South Korea. Now India has said it will investigate AdWords for anti-competitive behavior, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The Competition Commission of India said that although it’s initially focused on AdWords the scope of the investigation could expand over time.
The WSJ cites data showing that “less than 10% of India’s population of 1.2 billion is online” but that Google now controls a “50 percent share of the overall Indian digital ad market.”
The WSJ described one of the several complaints received by the Indian Competition Commission over AdWords:
In February, the Commission received a complaint from Consim Info. Pvt. Ltd., a Chennai-based company that operates a host of match-making Web sites for various Indian regional communities, including “TamilMatrimony.com” and “BengaliMatrimony.com.”
Consim alleges that Google abused its market power by allowing its rivals to bid for keywords such as “Tamil matrimony,” forcing Consim to pay steep prices to retain keywords closely associated with its services. The Consim complaint alleges Google had engaged “in discriminatory and retaliatory practices” and requested that the agency impose measures to protect fair competition.
The antitrust investigation is just the latest legal headache for Google in India. The company faces potential criminal penalties for indexing and presenting content that is deemed “offensive” or “objectionable” by individuals, groups or the government.
India and China are huge potential markets for Google. However both countries, to varying degrees, have hostile and unpredictable commercial and regulatory environments that make doing business there more challenging than in North America, Europe or other parts of Asia.
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