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Summary: India’s antitrust watchdog launches investigation into Google Play’s new billing policy

The Competition Commission of India said that it prima facie finds merit in the allegations levelled by app developers and media industry bodies against Google Play’s new billing policy and has ordered probe into the same.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on March 15 ordered an investigation into Google Play's new billing policy based on complaints received from app developers and media industry bodies alleging unfair and discriminatory service fees, denial of market access, restrictions to technical development, and the abuse of dominance in one market to enter others. The competition watchdog said that it prima facie finds merit in the allegations and ordered its Director General to conduct an investigation and submit a report in sixty days. The complainants include Shaadi.com, Kuku FM, the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), and the Indian Digital Media Industry Foundation (IDMIF). CCI had already investigated Google Play once before and issued an antitrust order in October 2022 that levied a fine and directed major changes to Play Store policies including mandating that Google must allow developers to use alternative payment systems. Developers, however, argue that the new billing policy comes with various restrictions and fees, which are anti-competitive and also go against the 2022 antitrust order. The Commission is examining whether Google is complying with its 2022 antitrust order in separate proceedings. Some developers are also fighting Google at the Supreme Court. The launch of this latest probe comes a few weeks after Google faced a backlash for delisting the apps of popular Indian companies from the Play Store including that of Shaddi.com, which is a complainant in the current case. The apps were later restored following intervention from the government. First, a brief overview of Google's…

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