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MCA to review performance of CCI amidst delay in Google Play probe; ADIF approaches Delhi HC

In October 2022, the CCI passed two antitrust orders against Google, prescribing significant changes to the Android and Play Store.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) is looking to do a performance review of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) amidst the delay in the regulator’s probe into complaints filed by app developers against the Google Play Store, The Hindu Business Line reported on February 9. There has been no public communication by the Ministry or CCI in this regard.

Separately, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), which is one of the complainants in the Google Play case, has approached the Delhi High Court against the “inaction” of CCI in deciding the case, Business Standard reported on February 14.

In October 2022, the CCI passed two antitrust orders against Google, prescribing significant changes to the Android and Play Store. In response to the Play Store order, Google introduced a new billing policy for Google Play in February 2023. However, app developers, through ADIF, complained to CCI that the new billing policy was not in compliance with the regulator’s antitrust order as it places various unfair restrictions and fees on developers. It’s been nearly 10 months since then and the CCI is yet to conclude its probe into Google’s non-compliance.

Some of the app developers also approached the Madras High Court last year asking it to look into the matter as they were not able to find an effective remedy at the CCI. The court rejected these pleas earlier in January this year, but the developers have now filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.

Many other important tech cases are also pending with the CCI, including complaints against Apple, Google News, Whatsapp, Amazon and Flipkart, and Swiggy and Zomato. This has cast questions on the effectiveness of the regulator.

ADIF welcomed the performance review: “We support the MCA’s bold step in reviewing the CCI, recognising the urgent need to address the power dynamics that threaten the very essence of fair competition. Our nation’s digital future hinges on the delicate balance between empowering innovators and preventing the undue dominance of a select few tech giants,” ADIF said in a statement, according to Business Standard.

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