Google’s removal of apps in India not allowed: IT Minister Vaishnaw

Google’s App Removal Sparks Controversy in India

Google’s recent decision to remove several apps from its app store in India has sparked a heated debate in the country. Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw expressed his disapproval of the move, stating that such de-listings cannot be permitted. The dispute stems from Google’s enforcement of in-app payment guidelines, leading to the removal of popular Indian apps like Bharat Matrimony and Naukri.

Minister Vaishnaw Takes a Stand

Minister Vaishnaw has engaged in discussions with Google and expressed his intention to protect startups in India affected by the app removals. He emphasized the need for safeguarding the interests of Indian businesses and ensuring a fair playing field. However, Google has remained tight-lipped on the matter, choosing not to comment on the situation.

Startup Community Reacts to Removals

The removal of apps from the Play Store has elicited strong reactions from the startup community, with many expressing their discontent with Google’s actions. Startup companies have long been at odds with the tech giant over various issues, including the imposition of in-app fees. Google contends that these fees are essential for the development and promotion of the Android and Play Store ecosystem.

Antitrust Concerns and Court Decisions

The crux of the dispute lies in the efforts of Indian startups to challenge Google’s imposition of fees ranging from 11 percent to 26 percent on in-app payments. Antitrust authorities in the country had previously ordered Google not to enforce a system charging 15 percent to 30 percent. Despite this, Google received authorization from the courts to levy the fees or remove non-compliant apps.

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Impact on Businesses

The removal of apps has had a significant impact on companies like Matrimony.com, which has seen over 150 of its apps removed from the Play Store. Founder Murugavel Janakiraman expressed concerns about the long-term effects on revenue if the situation persists. Similarly, Info Edge, the parent company of Naukri, faced setbacks as its apps were also removed, causing disruptions in its operations.

Previous Incidents and Industry Response

This is not the first time Google has faced backlash for app removals in India. In 2020, the popular payments app Paytm was briefly removed from the Play Store for policy violations. This incident prompted Paytm’s founder and other industry players to challenge Google by launching their own app stores and filing legal cases against the tech giant.

Looking Ahead

As the controversy continues to unfold, the Indian startup ecosystem is bracing for potential disruptions and uncertainties. Google’s actions have reignited discussions around fair competition and the need for regulatory oversight in the tech industry. The situation underscores the complexities of the digital economy and the challenges faced by businesses operating within it.

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