India Launches Antitrust Probe of Google

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India has launched an antitrust probe of Google Inc.'s online advertising business to investigate potential anti-competitive practices, according to government officials familiar with the matter.

The probe, which could take several months to complete, is initially focused on AdWords—Google's flagship advertising product and main source of revenue. But the agency conducting the investigation, the Competition Commission of India, could expand it to scrutinize other Google services if it sees fit, the officials said.

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A Google spokesman said the company hasn't been notified of the antitrust investigation and therefore isn't in position to comment on it.

Google has a large share of India's nascent Internet ad market. Its search service and YouTube video site are among the most popular destinations for Indian Web users.

The investigation by the Competition Commission of India follows a February complaint by Consim Info. Pvt.Ltd., alleging that Google had "abused its dominance by engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory practices relating to AdWords" and requesting that the agency impose measures to protect fair competition. Chennai-based Consim Info owns and runs services such as match-making Web site BharatMatrimony.com.

One of the government officials familiar with the matter said the probe wasn't launched in response to any particular complaint by a Google rival.

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