CCI stepping up vigil on digital economy: Chairman

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is stepping up its vigil of India’s digital economy, the regulator’s chairman, Ashok Kumar Gupta, said at an event today. He was speaking at a virtual event called ‘Initiative on Choice, Competition and Innovation’ (ICCI) arranged by the Centre for The Digital Future (CDF).

Gupta said that markets in India are “ripe” with examples of single players or duopolies who hold most of the market share. “Even if these platforms do not exhibit all the characteristics of an essential facility, the essentiality of such platforms cannot be ignored. An entire, multi actor ecosystem of sellers, consumers, advertising and application developers depend on them for survival. The relationship of multiple actors in the ecosystem with these platforms has been increasingly raising competition concerns,” he added.

He also expressed concern about the fact that the state of these markets could lead to situations where dominant forces extract rents from even their trading partners. India’s startups have opposed tech giant Google’s imposition of a 30% commission for payments for services and digital items sold through apps on the Play Store. While the company did lower the fees to an extent, many startups remain opposed to the system, which is used by both Google and Apple.

Gupta underscored the need to implement competition law in such situations, so that a balance may be created in the digital market, while still incentivising innovation from both platforms and trading partners.

The CCI is currently looking into several cases against tech giant Google and the policies it has for its platforms. It is also looking into messaging giant WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, which has led to much controversy since January.

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