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ADIF seeks interim relief from CCI against Google play store policy

 
New Delhi, Oct 11 (IANS) The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), with more than 422 startups, on Monday said it has filed a petition before the Competition Commission of India (CCI) seeking interim relief from Google's new Play Store policy which goes into effect from March next year.

The CCI, which launched a probe two years ago into Google's alleged abuse of the Android Operating System (OS), is already looking into the potential abuse of dominance by Google in the app market.

The ADIF said in a statement that the interim relief has been sought on behalf of app developers as Google's new policy will restrict certain categories of apps to use only Google Billing System (GBS) for accepting payments.

This would be an issue for app developers because GBS charges 30 per cent commission for all transactions on the Google Play Store, compared to 2 per cent charged by other payment processing systems.

"ADIF foresees that barring an order passed by the CCI to maintain status-quo until the completion of the ongoing inquiry, Google shall proceed to enforce its terms on the Play Store, thereby leading to adverse and irreversible consequences on India's fledgling startup ecosystem," said Sijo Kuruvilla George, Executive Director, Alliance of Digital India Foundation.

The petition said there is a strong case for seeking such relief as this new policy, when it goes into effect next March, would have a destructive effect on the operating margins of a large number of startups and make their business models infeasible.

The CCI had, in November 2020, directed a probe by the Director General into the issue of mandatory use of Google Play Store's payment system for paid apps & in-app purchases.

In its petition to the commission, ADIF, which represents the interests of various stakeholders such as startups, app developers, etc, has stated that the 30 per cent commission charged by Google is extremely high and unfair.

"This will have a disastrous effect on India's digital ecosystem by reducing choices available in the hands of app developers and users as well as harming the country's innovation ecosystem by disrupting the cost structures and margins of multiple industries," the petition added.

Google recently went to the Delhi High Court against the leak of the CCI's confidential report pertaining to the investigation against the global search engine giant.

The anti-trust regulator, however, denied leaking confidential reports to the media.

Taking note of the CCI's submissions, the high court said nothing survives in the petition filed by Google against the alleged leak of confidential probe information and disposed of the plea.

Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder and CEO of Matrimony.com, said: "If not kept in check, such anti-competitive policies and gatekeeper commissions will be imposed on more and more categories, causing a disastrous effect on competition and prices in India."

--IANS
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