The Indian government is in discussions to introduce a Digital Competition Law to regulate tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, a reaffirmation of the government’s resolve to have an executive authority to rein in potential anti-competitive practices.
As per reporting by The Economic Times, one of the people aware of the matter stated that “It will be a new law, so it will take some time.” This is in contrast to the Competition Act which was amended earlier this year to address modern issues and manage fair trade concerns.
The law would seek to complement the Competition Act, and would look to address the long-standing problem of ex-ante regulations meant to rein in monopoly practices of big tech firms. However, these plans have met with huge opposition from firms like Google, Apple, and Facebook who are already under investigation by the competition regulator for potential violations.
The deliberations on the bill have been spearheaded by a government committee led by the corporate affairs secretary Manoj Govil, who is now in the process of completing the preliminary report. To ensure the report is a comprehensive document that takes into account global practices, the committee has carried out consultation between Apple, Amazon, Google, Meta, and Twitter.
The committee is expected to outline the scope by defining Systemically Important Digital Intermediaries (SIDI), and will more likely exclude small and medium-sized companies as part of it’s proposed framework. Furthermore, the report, which will be presented to the government at the end of the month, is also set to incorporate findings of the Parliamentary panel on Finance’s report from December 2022 which put forth the proposal for an independent digital competition law in the first place.
The inclusion of a separate digital competition law would help in bolstering the country’s existing anti-competition norms and would help cement India’s presence in taking actions against firms that flout proper anti-trust regulations. Thereby, such a move would be essential in restricting issues such as abusive practices from hard-facing local businesses and, in the long run, help create a more equitable business environment for all players.