Google faces government backlash over app removals in India

The Indian government has expressed its strong opposition to Google’s removal of some apps from its Play Store in India, citing its impact on the startup ecosystem and the digital economy. The government has summoned Google and the affected app developers for a meeting next week, to seek clarity and resolve the dispute.

Google delists some apps over billing policy violation

The controversy erupted on Friday, when Google began delisting some apps from its Play Store in India, over non-compliance with its billing policy. The policy requires app developers to use Google’s payment system for in-app purchases, and pay a service fee of 15% to 30% to Google.

Some of the apps that were removed from the Play Store included popular matrimony apps such as Shaadi, and Bharat Matrimony, as well as other apps from Info Edge, such as Naukri and 99acres. The apps were reportedly using alternative payment methods, such as UPI and net banking, to avoid paying the service fee to Google.

app removal
app removal

Government opposes app delisting and supports startups

The government took a serious view of the issue, and said that app delisting cannot be permitted, as it affects the interests and rights of the app developers and the users. The government also said that the startup ecosystem is key to the Indian economy, and that it will provide the necessary protection and support to the startups.

The IT and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told that he had called Google and the app developers who had been delisted, for a meeting next week. He said that the government will be clear in its policy, and that the fate of the startups cannot be left to any big tech to decide.

The minister also said that he will tell Google that India has a vibrant and energetic startup community, with more than 100,000 startups and 100 unicorns, and that their energy and innovation cannot be left to the policies of any big tech.

Google defends its billing policy and reinstates some apps

Google defended its billing policy, and said that it applies to all app developers who offer in-app purchases of digital goods on the Play Store. Google said that the policy ensures a consistent and secure payment experience for the users, and that it helps maintain a level playing field for the app developers.

Google also said that it had given a grace period of six months, until March 31, 2024, for the app developers to comply with the policy, and that it had engaged with them extensively to address their concerns and queries. Google said that it had delisted only 10 apps, out of thousands of apps that use in-app purchases, and that it had reinstated some of them after they had updated their apps to comply with the policy.

Google also said that it respects the Indian government’s authority and jurisdiction, and that it will continue to work with the government and the app developers to resolve the issue amicably.

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