On Thursday The popular traveling website Booking.com has been slammed with a fine of 1.3billion Rubles ($17.5 Million) by Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) for resulting in its dominant position in the country.
The move comes as Russia intensifies its pressure on Western IT firms and comes months after officials fined Apple $12 million (approximately Rs. 89 crores) for the same offense. Booking.com “abused its dominant position in the Russian market for the supply of services by aggregators of information on accommodation facilities,” according to a statement by Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.
The Amsterdam-based travel portal was accused of imposing “the responsibility to supply and comply with pricing parity” on hotels and hostels.
“For hotels, this meant that they could not price their services in other sales channels lower than on the Booking.com aggregator,” the regulator said.
According to the study, Booking.com’s “actions restrict market competition and also lead to infringement of hotel interests.”
The regulator stated that it took up the issue at the request of a non-governmental organization (NGO) that promotes Russian entrepreneurship and has received plaudits from President Vladimir Putin.
Booking.com expressed “disappointment” with the ruling, which it plans to “challenge.”
“We have always contributed to the development of the tourism industry and firmly believe that our price parity practice is fair and allows Booking.com to maintain the travel ecosystem,” the company said in a statement carried by the Russian state news agency TASS.
“This is especially important now, in an unprecedented time for the tourism industry, which continues to have a huge impact on Booking.com, our partners, and the industry as a whole.”
Apple was fined $12.1 million (approximately Rs. 89 crores) by Russia in April for “abusing” its dominating position in the market by prioritizing its own programmes.
For failing to comply with Russian regulations, Western tech companies are frequently fined. Russia penalized Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp on Thursday for failing to keep Russian users’ data on domestic servers.
A number of websites, including LinkedIn, have been blocked in Russia for refusing to comply with authorities.