International

Google Backlash Triggers Indian Movement To ‘Free The Internet’

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Indian billionaire and founder of payments decacorn Paytm, is leading a charge to topple Google’s dominance over the internet.

“They (Google) cannot be a single gatekeeper to the whole Indian internet ecosystem, especially when they claim to be a non-Indian entity,” Sharma told reporters at a news briefing on Thursday (Oct. 8), DealStreetAsia reported Friday. “This is similar to the ‘salt movement’ which India fought where salt was taxed. Similarly now, Google is taxing the entire technology landscape, arbitrarily for just providing a platform.” 

He further said that Google is no longer an “ecosystem enabler” and instead now functions more as a “toll collector.”

“If they are charging 30% of commissions for just providing Play Store, as a platform, they should at least offer customer care service to Indian apps,” said Sharma.

He also said startup developers in India are starting a neutral trade group to fight Big Tech conglomerates like Google and Facebook. Paytm also launched a ₹10 crore developer fund to help app creators in the country.

“We are launching a movement today to free the internet today, which is controlled by Google,” said Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO of Matrimony.com.

He added that over 95 percent of India’s internet surfing population use Google. “But, for what reason do we have to give Google a commission? Is it just for distribution of our apps?”

Vishal Gondal, founder and CEO of GOQii, is fighting a defamation lawsuit against Twitter in the Bombay City Civil Court. He said developers can better fight Big Tech if they band together.

The fight is not only against Google, “but also Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, which keep spreading fake news and slander. The crux of the problem is that they do not follow the rules of India, and get away by saying that they are not regulated by Indian laws,” Gondal said. 

Sharma also alleged that Google’s Play Store billing will be routed through Google Pay, its Indian payment arm, which brings in the debate of colliding with unfair practices for “wilful gains.”

About 99 percent of India’s 500 million smartphone users are on Google’s Android mobile operating system, which gives the tech company too much control and influence.

Complaints by Indian developers caused Google to pause its new billing system for commissions for six months.

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