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Meity hears industry concerns over draft Digital Competition Bill

June 21, 2024
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Representatives of several bodies that speak for the internet and mobile business expressed on Tuesday their concern about the draft Digital Competition Bill. They are the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Digital News Publishers Association, Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, and Cyber Cafe Association of India. Information Technology Secretary S Krishnan, who chaired the meeting, conducted by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity), said their proposals would be conveyed to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

The meeting is significant because divergent stances have emerged among digital players. While big tech players have opposed the introduction of any ex-ante framework under the Bill, saying that it could have a negative effect on innovation and investment, several Indian startups have favored it. The IAMAI, which is the largest representative body for digital startups and companies, argued against the need for ex-ante regulation for digital markets.

Ex-ante regulations are proactive measures to prevent certain practices before they occur. The ministry wanted to hear every industry body on the issue, and all made their points. The IAMAI, according to sources, said the criteria for designating enterprises systematically significant digital enterprises (SSDEs) could include the entire digital sector.

The Bill proposes certain core digital services be designated SSDEs. It gives parameters for a company to be called an SSDE, but it also mentions that entities that do not satisfy the parameters can still be designated SSDEs if the Competition Commission of India says it has a significant presence. Prateek Jain, associate director of startups, ADIF, reacting to the meeting, said that as the premier policy think tank for digital startups in India, the ADIF wholeheartedly welcomes this forward-looking legislation, which strikes a right balance between promoting innovation and ensuring fair competition.

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