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Google faces more regulatory woes, this time in India

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Google is facing new complaints from tech companies and regulators, this time in India, that it is cooking search results to benefit its own businesses to the detriment of competitors.

In response to a request for information from the Competition Commission of India (or CCI), several companies that run travel, e-commerce, and social networking sites in that country said that the Internet search giant is fixing results so that consumer searches are more likely to end up on a Google property rather than a competitor’s site, even if the competitor’s site is more relevant, according to The Economic Times.

From the report:

Based on the responses from 30 businesses spanning search, social networks, ecommerce, travel, and content sites, the CCI director-general last week filed a report that accuses Google of abusing its dominant position to rig search outcomes, both the actual search result as well as sponsored links. This marks the first case globally where an antitrust body is formally raising such charges against Google.

The original complaint came from Bharat Matrimony and the Consumer Unity and Trust Society, but other companies including Flipkart, Facebook (FB), the map division of Nokia (NOK),, and Microsoft (MSFT) (which fields Bing search against Google) also piled on, according to the report.

Google(GOOG) has until September 10 to respond. The CCI could fine the Mountain View, Calif. tech giant up to 10% of its annual income—or $1.4 billion for 2014—if it is found to have acted in an anti-competitive manner.

In an emailed statement, a Google spokesperson said the company is “reviewing this report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation. We continue to work closely with the CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India’s competition laws.”

In addition, the spokesperson added that regulators and courts in countries including the U.S.,Germany, Taiwan, Egypt and Brazil, looked into and “found no concerns on many of the issues raised in this report.”

Last week, Google filed a response to a similar complaint made in April by European regulators that its search results favor its own shopping sites over those of rivals.

In a blog post, Google senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker wrote that while the EC’s Statement of Objections (SO) charges that Google’s display of paid ads from retailers “diverted traffic” from other shopping services

…the SO doesn’t back up that claim, doesn’t counter the significant benefits to consumers and advertisers, and doesn’t provide a clear legal theory to connect its claims with its proposed remedy.

Note: This story was updated at 9:09 a.m. to include Google’s response.

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