To ensure a level-playing field in the digital market, a parliamentary panel on Tuesday discussed preparing a legal framework for fair competition in the space as it grilled big tech majors Google, Amazon, Apple and others on alleged anti-competitive practices.
During the meeting, several members of the parliamentary panel on finance questioned the market dominance of big tech companies, which, they said, is precluding other competitors and killing Indian players, sources said.
As all big tech majors in the meeting suggested no further regulation is required in the Indian digital market, a member replied that if the big tech majors are going to be so “non-cooperative” then they should “leave it to the limited wisdom of lawmakers to regulate in the manner as they deemed fit”, sources said.
Members of the panel suggested that they want legislation in place which is not business unfriendly but at the same time saves the interests of the consumers as well, they said.
Top executives of the Indian arms of Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter Netflix and Uber deposed before the panel.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, led by former Union minister Jayant Sinha, is looking into various aspects of competition in the marketplace, especially concerning technology majors.
After the meeting, Mr Sinha said, “The parliamentary panel will be issuing a report on the evolution of competition law for digital markets, that is the report that we are putting together.” “We will deal specifically with matters related to competitive conduct and competitive behaviour, which will include issues related to pricing, platform neutrality, and how data is used in the adjacent markets.” Sinha said the panel has held six to seven meetings and “will be issuing a report in the first week of September”.
In preparation for that report, the panel has been conducting a series of hearings with firms that are operating in digital markets, industry associations, regulators and ministries.
Mr Sinha further said the report will take into account India’s unique circumstances, but at the same time “intensively examine and consider competition law associated with digital markets around the world”.
The EU has just passed a digital market act and a digital services act, while there are several bills pending in the British parliament and the US Congress associated with digital markets. Other jurisdictions like Australia and Korea have passed laws associated with digital markets, Mr Sinha noted.
The BJP leader said the competition law is evolving very quickly across the world to deal with digital markets, and it is well worth examining in India which is a very, very large digital ecosystem.
Amazon India’s Country Manager, Consumer Business, Manish Tiwary, Apple India’s Managing Director Strategy and Policy, Virat Bhatia, Facebook India’s head of public policy Rajiv Aggarwal were among those who deposed before the panel on Tuesday.
Google India’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy Archana Gulati, Netflix India Director Head of Indian Policy Ambika Khurana, Twitter India Senior Director Public Policy Samiran Gupta, Uber India and South Asia President Prabhjeet Singh also deposed before the panel.
Representatives of food delivery platforms Swiggy and Zomato, e-commerce player Flipkart, cab aggregator Ola, hotel aggregator Oyo, and the All India Gaming Association are among those who have already been called by the Sinha-led panel.
In recent times, there have been complaints about alleged anticompetitive ways of various technology platforms and firms.
The CCI is already probing various cases, especially in the digital space, following complaints of unfair business practices.
On April 28, the CCI made a presentation about competition aspects in the marketplace to the parliamentary panel.