Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sansad TV: Committe Report- Anti-Competitive Practices by Big Tech Companies

sansad_tv

 

 

Introduction:

The world is digitizing rapidly. The digital markets are present across the national and global economy in most sectors from healthcare to finance from transportation services to education. The leading players are collectively referred to as Big Tech companies. Since digital markets do not have sufficient competition, they also are prone to significant anti-competitive behaviour by leading players.

Revamping CCI: 

  • The CCI regulates market competition in India.
  • The opinion is that CCI should be strengthened to address anti-competitve behaviour in digital markets.
  • The creation of a specialied digital markets unit in CCI.
  • This unit would:
    • monitor established and emerging SIDIs
    • give recommendations to the central government on designating SIDIs
    • adjudicate on cases related to digital markets.

Regulating digital markets: 

  • Digital markets comprise of internet based (digital) companies with millions of interacting participants.
  • The Committee noted that, unlike physical markets, digital markets have increasing returns to size (returns of business increasing with size of the firm) driven by learning and network effects (utility of users growing with number of users on the platform).
  • As a result, such markets may be dominated with a few leading players emerging in a short period.  This happens even before policies can be formulated and anti-competitive practices are adjudicated.
  • The Committee recommended that competitive behaviour needs to be evaluated before markets end up monopolised instead of the ex-post evaluation done presently.

Digital Gatekeepers: 

  • The Committee recommended that India must identify the leading players in digital markets that can negatively influence competitive conduct.
  • They should be categorised as Systemically Important Digital Intermediaries (SIDIs) based on their revenue, market capitalisation, and the number of active businesses and end users.
  • SIDIs should annually submit a report to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) detailing the measures taken to comply with various mandatory obligations.

Digital Competition Act: 

Self-preferencing: 

  • An entity may have the dual role of providing the platform and competing on the same platform.  Self-preferencing is a practice wherein a platform favours its own services or the services of its subsidiaries.
  • The Committee noted that a lack of platform neutrality can lead to a negative effect on downstream markets.  It recommended that SIDIs must not favour their own services over those of their competitors when mediating access.

Data Usage: 

  • The Committee noted that market leaders who have access to the personal data of users tend to get bigger while new entrants struggle to acquire users and user data.
  • It recommended that SIDIs should not process the personal data of end users who use services of third parties, if such parties use the core services of the SIDI.
  • Personal data from the relevant core service of the SIDI should not be cross-utilised in other services provided separately by the platform.  End users should not be signed into other services of the platform unless he has been presented with a specific choice to which he has consented.

Bundling and tying: 

  • Many digital firms force consumers to buy related services.
  • The Committee noted that this creates asymmetry in pricing and leads to the removal of competition from the market.
  • It also enables leading players to leverage their market power in one core platform to another.  It opined that SIDIs should not force businesses or end users to subscribe to any further services for being able to use their core platform service.

Anti-steering: 

  • Anti-steering provisions are clauses wherein a platform prevents its business users from steering its customers to offers other than those provided by the platform.
  • The Committee recommended that SIDIs should not make access to their platform conditional on the purchase/use of other products or services that are not part of or intrinsic to the platform.