Google: Google’s user choice billing system non-compliant with CCI’s remedies: ADIF


Under the ‘User Choice billing system’ proposed by Google, app developers need to pay 11/26% commission to Google, thus making it non-compliant with CCI’s remedy, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) said in a detailed note on Thursday elaborating on the non-compliance of the two CCI orders by Google.

It stated that the user choice billing system is not in line with the CCI’s directives of ‘not imposing any condition (including price related condition) on app developers, which is unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory or disproportionate to the services provided.’

Last week, Google announced around five changes to the way it operates Android and Google Play billing in India. CCI in its two rulings — one on October 20 and the second on October 25 — had directed the American company to make close to 20 changes in the operation of its services in India.

The changes announced by Google will allow OEMs to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices. Earlier these apps were pre-installed for free with Android. Indian users will now have the option to choose their default search engine. Google is also updating its backend to allow partners to build non-compatible or forked variants of Android. User choice billing will be available to all apps and games starting next month, Google said in a blogpost.

Google was not available for a comment immediately.

The think tank which represents several Indian digital startups said Google has made available the alternative payments limited only to the purchase of in-app digital content and not app downloads. It further states that the search giant is silent on ‘not imposing Anti-steering Provisions on app developers,’ as highlighted in the order.

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Further, it claimed that there has been no response by Google on having a clear and transparent policy on data that is collected on its platform, along with the use of such data and the potential sharing of such data with app developers while also staying mum on data collected by Google not being leveraged to further its competitive advantage, as put down by the CCI.When it comes to the Android app bundling case, ADIF said Google does not address the issue of freedom given to OEMs for placement of apps.

“Google’s blogpost does not give any clarity on whether users will be able to easily change the default settings in their devices, in minimum steps possible,” ADIF claimed.

It added that there’s been no clarity by Google on CCI’s remedy detailing that Google shall not deny access to its Play Services APIs to disadvantage OEMs, app developers and its existing or potential competitors. The search giant has also not provided clarity by on CCI’s remedy detailing that it shall not offer any monetary/ other incentives to, or enter into any arrangement with, OEMs for ensuring exclusivity for its search services.

“Google has not stated that it will not impose AFA and ACC obligations on OEMs,” ADIF said. “(There’s also been) No clarity by Google on CCI’s remedy detailing ‘Google shall not incentivise or otherwise obligate OEMs for not selling smart devices based on Android forks (or on) CCI’s remedy detailing ‘Google shall not restrict un-installing of its pre-installed apps by the users.’”

Finally, the think tank said Google has not given any assurance that it will not continue showcasing multiple security warnings which discourages an average user from downloading any app through side loading.

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