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MeitY seeks inputs from industry, think tanks on digital competition bill

June 25, 2024
Technology & Research
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Opinions divided among start-ups; some cite “error costs” of ex ante regulations. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) met with prominent think tanks to take their inputs on the draft Digital Competition Bill (DCB), and its impact on the domestic start-ups. The Ministry officials, including the MeitY secretary and members from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) asked the participants to submit their views on the proposed law. Broadly, the ministry wanted to seek inputs on how the law would impact the start-up ecosystem in the country, and whether there’s need for further consultation on the bill and evidence selection.

The bodies which attended the meeting on included Chase India, CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition, entre for Competition and Law, Centre for Digital Future, and others. The opinions are divided on the draft DCB where some sections are supporting the legislation while others are vehemently opposing it. For instance, the Dialogue, which was part of the meeting, has said that there are high error costs associated with ex-ante regulations and suggested that such regulations should be deployed cautiously, supported by overwhelming evidence of harm and negative externalities. In the past, similar regulations internationally have led to unintended consequences, for example, negative impact on investments.

On the other hand, there are some 40 domestic start-ups such as Matrimony.com, TrulyMadly, Innov8, QuackQuack, Magicbricks, Hoichoi, and Medibuddy, who have been supporting the bill. Last month, these start-ups had written a letter to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) saying that the proposed legislation is a step in the right direction.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) concluded the two-month long consultation process on the draft DCB, where it had sought feedback from stakeholders. Prior to the closing of the consultation process, several industry bodies such as US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) were asking for the extension of the deadline. This is the second consecutive day when MeitY officials had a meeting on the draft DCB. The officials had met the lobby bodies such as Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), Cyber Cafe Association of India (CCAOI) and others to seek their opinions. Digital industry experts suggest that the Ministry is likely to hold more such meetings to find out the impact of the draft bill, and to understand the possible areas of overlap between MeitY and MCA on this key legislation.

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