Since the last week’s removal of Paytm from Google Playstore, the tussle between both the companies is still not subsiding. The Indian payments app had violated some of the policies of Playstore for gambling. The ongoing tussle has now put the focus on India’s competition laws on digital marketplaces. However, this isn’t the first time the tech giant has faced legal issues in India for one of its platforms.
Gurshabad Grover, senior policy officer at Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), said, “For long, Google and Apple have been exercising too much control over app developers.” Quoting further, he said that the new episode shows that such things can happen anytime, with any app. The search giant’s app store has several policies that govern what types of apps can stay on Playstore. “This time, they played by the rules, but they can always make these decisions to suit their business interests,” said Grover.
Legal Troubles for Google in India
Google has also been pulled up in India before for abusing its dominance with Search in 2018. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had even slapped a fine of ₹135.6 crore to the search giant for abusing its dominance in web search and related advertising services. The company also ran into trouble for abusing its powers for monopoly in mobile operating systems last year. Even this year, back in May, there was a case against Google Pay.
According to Grover, there is “no clear judgment” about whether the app stores like Google Playstore and App Store are intermediaries like social platforms or not. He said, “In the Fermat Education vs Sorting Hat Technologies case of 2018, Madras high court specifically said that if you are pre-screening uploaded content or if some sort of money is involved, then you are moving away from the definition of intermediary, which protects you from liability.” So, the Google, Paytm tussle may land Google in trouble again.
Grover specified the need for fixing the competition law for digital markets in India. He mentioned that the proposed amendments of 2020 to the competition law should be taken into consideration by the government. Another tech policy advisor, Prasanto K. Roy, stressed on the self-regulation of platforms like Google. He said that the company must give enough time to app developers before taking any action.