AIDF approaches CCI against Google Play billing policies

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The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), a New Delhi based think tank consisting of Indian entrepreneurs and startups, has reportedly approached the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to seek interim relief against the implementation of the Google Play Store commission till the investigation into the tech giant’s abuse of dominance is complete.

Apple and Google do not permit developers to use other payment options for in-app purchases and take hefty commission cuts. Developers across the world are fighting against the policies of the two tech giants. In September 2021, a federal judge for the Northern District of California disposed of a case filed by Fortnite creator Epic Games by permanently restraining Apple from mandating developers to only use the in-app purchase option managed by Apple.

ADIF has been set up as a Trust in January this year with an aim to create a level playing field for Indian companies and its initial members include venture firm founding partner Anand Lunia, Murugavel Janakiraman of, Ritesh Mallik, founder of Innov8 Coworking, Sairee Chahal of Sheroes, among others.

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Google Play Store’s commission of 30 percent in India for using the Google Play billing system will come into effect on March 31, 2022. Google in September 2020 said all app developers selling digital goods must mandatorily use its payment system that provides Google a cut of in-app purchases. The initial implementation timeline was September 30, 2021, which was later extended to March 31, 2022.

In November last year, CCI found that mandating apps to use Play Store’s payment system and Google Play In-App Billing for charging their users for the purchase of apps on Play Store and In-App purchases, as prima facie abuse of dominance and directed the Director-General to investigate the matter.

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In September, Reuters reported as per the report accessed by it, Google abused the dominant position of its Android operating system in India, using its “huge financial muscle” to illegally hurt competitors. Claiming that a confidential fact-finding report was leaked by CCI, Google on September 23 filed a writ petition before Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court on September 27, closed the petition against the alleged leak of a confidential report, after taking on record the stand of CCI that it has no objection to accepting all requests of Google in regards to confidentiality.

In June 2021, Google was sued by 36 US states and Washington D.C. alleging that the company illegally abused its power over the sale and distribution of apps through the Google Play store on mobile devices. The lawsuit, filed in California federal court, challenges Google’s policy forcing Google Play app developers to pay a 30 percent commission fee on sales made through the app. The AIDF also planned to meet MeitY officials to discuss possible policy interventions to address the abuse of dominance by big tech companies like Google and Apple.