Info-tech

Google takes CCI to Delhi HC for leak of Android probe report

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 23, 2021

Says media got DG’s report even before it did

Tech giant Google on Thursday said it has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court against the Competition Commission of India (CCI) alleging unlawful disclosures of the confidential interim fact-finding report submitted by the Director General’s office to CCI relating to an ongoing investigation into Android smartphone agreements.

Google said it has not yet received or reviewed the confidential report, but it was already leaked to the media last week, which impairs “Google’s ability to defend itself and harms Google and its partners.”

“On September 18, 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. Google has not yet received or reviewed this confidential report,” the company said.

The DG’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 said.

Confidential information

“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. Protecting confidential information is fundamental to any governmental investigation, and we are pursuing our legal right to seek redress and prevent any further unlawful disclosures,” a Google spokesperson said.

“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 added.

The CCI directed the DG’s office, a functionally separate investigative arm of the CCI, to investigate Google’s conduct in Android smartphones on April 16, 2019. Over the next two years, during the investigation, the tech giant had submitted a large amount of confidential information extending full cooperation by sharing sensitive and confidential financial and product statistics.

Dominant position

According to the leaked report submitted by the DG’s office to the CCI on September 18, Google was found guilty of using practices to muzzle competition trying to maintain dominance in several areas it operates in including music (YouTube), search engine (Chrome) and app store (Play Store) among others.

Likely landmark judgment

Commenting on the Google-CCI matter, Charanya Lakshmikumaran, Partner, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan Attorneys, said: “It will be interesting to see whether the investigation report has analysed actual or potential harm to competition and consumers as a result of the alleged exclusivity and tying and bundling of the apps. Digital markets’ investigations require elevation of the traditional anti-trust tools to review multi-sided markets and network effects as some of the factors. We look forward to the CCI’s decision in this case and to see their examination of the effect Google’s conduct has had in the Indian market. Given the size of the Indian market for android phones, this is likely to be a landmark judgment of the CCI”.

 

Published on September 23, 2021

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