Technology companies wary of law on digital competition

Standing Committee holds meet, to submit report on how legislation needs to evolve

August 23, 2022 10:42 pm | Updated 10:42 pm IST - New Delhi

The majority of the tech companies who were invited to the meeting on Tuesday, however, expressed reservations about the necessity of any additional framework or law. File.

The majority of the tech companies who were invited to the meeting on Tuesday, however, expressed reservations about the necessity of any additional framework or law. File. | Photo Credit: Reuters

To tackle unfair and predatory practices in the digital market space, the Standing Committee on Finance will be submitting a report in the first week of September on how the competition law needs to evolve for the digital market. The majority of the tech companies who were invited to the meeting on Tuesday, however, expressed reservations about the necessity of any additional framework or law. 

“In the first week of September, the Standing Committee on Finance will be submitting a report on the evolution of competition law for the digital market. We will take into account India’s unique circumstances; at the same time, we also examine competition laws associated with digital markets around the world,” panel chairperson and BJP MP Jayant Sinha said.

The European Union has recently passed the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act; there are several Bills pending in the British Parliament and the US Congress associated with digital markets, he added. 

On Tuesday, representatives of Amazon, Google, Netflix, Apple, Facebook Meta, Uber, and Twitter appeared before the committee. The panel has already had a few rounds of meetings with the Indian companies. 

A lot of questions were directed at Google and Apple’s practice of restricting developers/companies who put out their apps on their stores from working with other players. According to the sources, Apple representatives argued that they hold a minuscule proportion of the Indian smartphone market, 1.5% in total, and only 17 developers in India pay them a commission.

“Giving out the numbers, they claimed that since their share in the digital space in India is so low the question of anti-competitive practices doesn’t arise,” one of the members said. 

The members also made note of the “exclusionary” search engine used by Amazon, which pushes for certain brands that may be partially owned by the Amazon parent company over that of local manufacturers. Amazon and all other tech firms have been asked to submit their responses by August 29.

“It is a fact that market dominance by many of these globally leading firms is killing Indian businesses. Our idea is not to bring in more regulation, we want a market-oriented framework that takes into account the drastic evolution in digital space but for that, the firms have to co-operate, which they didn’t seem to do today,” another member said.

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