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3 Mar, 2024 11:06

Google restores Indian apps after New Delhi intervenes – media

The tech giant had delisted several prominent services from the Play Store, causing outrage and spurring government action
Google restores Indian apps after New Delhi intervenes – media

Google has begun restoring several Indian apps that were removed from its Play Store on Friday due to payment disputes, following the intervention of Indian Communications and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Times of India reported on Sunday. The minister stated that suddenly de-platforming key services “cannot be permitted” and urged the involved parties to engage with the government on the matter.

The US tech giant shocked the market on Friday when it announced that ten companies, including “many well-established” services like jobs marketplace Naukri, real estate company 99acres and matrimonial services Shaadi, Matrimony, and Bharat Matrimony, as well as several dating apps, had avoided paying fees for using the Play Store and would be delisted from the platform. 

As prominent startup founders voiced their opposition to Google’s move, New Delhi swiftly responded. Ashwini stated that the government would not permit the delisting of apps and called for a meeting with the tech company. “India is very clear, our policy is very clear. Our start-ups will get the protection that they need. I have already called Google. I have already called the app developers which have been delisted, we will be meeting them next week. This cannot be permitted. This kind of delisting cannot be permitted,” the IT minister said in an interview with PTI news agency.

He added that India had built a strong startup ecosystem, producing more than 100 unicorns from scratch in a decade, and that the fate of youth and entrepreneurs “cannot be left to the policies of any big tech.”

Google’s move came amid a long-standing dispute over a fee it imposes on in-app payments. Last year, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) initiated an inquiry following complaints from certain companies alleging the platform charges the fee, which ranges from 11% to 26%, in violation of a previous antitrust directive. 

The delisting also followed a ruling by the Supreme Court last month, which declined to restrain the tech major from removing apps from its Play Store if they do not comply with its billing policy – even as it agreed to hear appeals challenging the policy. Google has stated that a limited number of companies, including established ones, have opted not to remit the Play Store service fee for in-app transactions, which it sees as an “unjust advantage” over the majority of developers who adhere to the policy, MINT reported. Google asserted that it offered over three years for developers to adjust, with an additional three-week grace period following the recent court decision. 

The Internet and Mobile Association of India also called on Google to refrain from drastic steps, arguing that “a substantive hearing of the case is pending before the Supreme Court of India, and Google should not take any coercive action during the pendency of the case.”

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