Google removing apps from Play Store ‘cannot be allowed’ in India: IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav

Amid the ongoing controversy over service charge payments to the US company, Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnav on Saturday said Google’s decision to remove some apps from its app store in India “cannot be allowed”.

Google on Friday removed several Indian apps, including Matrimony.com’s popular Bharat matrimony and job search app Naukri, from its Play Store, saying the companies were not following its in-app payment guidelines.

Vaishnav said he has held talks with Google and will meet startups that need security in India.

“This cannot be allowed. This type of de-listing cannot be allowed,” he said in a statement.

Google declined to comment.

The removal has been criticized by several startups, who have protested and legally challenged many of the US giant’s practices over the years, including in-app fees. Google says the fee helps develop and promote the Android and Play Store ecosystem.

The controversy centers on efforts by some Indian startups to stop Google from charging 11 percent-26 percent on in-app payments, after the country’s antitrust authorities mandated it enforce the previous system of charging 15 percent-30 percent. Was ordered not to do it.

But two Supreme Court rulings in January and February effectively allowed Google to charge fees or remove apps.

Google on Friday said some Indian companies have decided not to pay for the “enormous value they get on Google Play”.

Among those worst affected by the removal is Matrimony.com with over 150 apps removed from the Play Store.

“All our apps have been removed and we are out of the Play Store and that means out of business,” founder Murugavel Janakiraman told Reuters on Saturday. “If this continues for a longer period of time our revenues will decline significantly.”

Another affected company, Info Edge, had removed its job search app Naukri and another real estate search app. Many of the company’s apps have been restored, its founder said on Saturday without elaborating.

Google briefly removed the popular Indian payments app Paytm from its Play Store in 2020, citing some policy violations. The move comes as company founders and the broader startup industry united to challenge Google by launching their own app stores and filing legal cases.

© Thomson Reuters 2024


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