Meet Kashmiri Brothers Who Got Google Fined For Rs 1,338 Cr

SRINAGAR: The fine on tech giant Google of Rs 1,338 crore, from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) was based on the information submitted by the three young digital economy experts among which Umar Javeed and Aquib Javeed are from Kashmir valley.

Aaqib Javeed and Umar Javeed

The fine was leveled on Google for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets with its Android mobile operating system, The Print reported.

The information was filed by the trio in 2018 on which CCI passed the verdict earlier this month. Umar Javeed and Sukarma Thapar, both 27-years-old at the time were working as research associates at the CCI, and Umar’s younger brother Aaqib, who was 24 at the time and a law student at the University of Kashmir.

The three young informants are all lawyers now, with Umar working at a public sector undertaking, Aaqib a practicing advocate in Delhi and Sukarma an independent consultant for law and policy.

The CCI — the national competition regulator — is responsible for promoting competition and preventing activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on market competition in India.

The CCI while imposing the fine asked Google not to force Android device makers to pre-install its services and also not restrict users from uninstalling of Google’s pre-installed apps.

After considering this information submitted by the trio, the CCI launched an investigation in April 2019 into Google’s conduct in the Android mobile device ecosystem, which eventually resulted in the 20 October CCI judgment and fine.

In its response, Google had said it would review the competition watchdog’s decision.  “CCI’s decision is a major setback for Indian consumers and businesses, opening serious security risks for Indians and raising the cost of mobile devices for Indians,” it said.

Aaqib said that the three of them were already interested in how the digital market was shaping up in India and how the policies and laws governing technology were influencing consumers and tech companies.

Then, events related to Google in Europe caught the trio’s attention. “In July 2018, the European Commission [the EU’s competition watchdog] imposed one of its largest fines on Google of 4.34 billion Euros for violating EU antitrust rules,” Umar said.

“There were many late nights and early mornings where we would just work throughout the night,” Aaqib said. “I was still a law student then and helping these guys meant I was juggling research along with studying for exams and assignments.”

Umar said this made compiling evidence a tough task because they only had access to consumer-facing information to support their cause.

“We can look at an Android phone and say there are some Google-owned apps that cannot be deleted even if we wanted to, but besides that, as consumers, we have little information on how exactly Android smartphone manufacturers and app developers are affected by the role Google plays in the Android ecosystem,” he explained.



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