To curb anti-competitive practices in digital markets, a Parliamentary panel on Thursday proposed ex-ante regulations, category of systemically important digital intermediaries and a new digital competition law.
In its report on "Anti Competitive Practices by Big Tech Companies", which was presented in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, the Standing Committee on Finance has recommended that the government should consider and introduce a Digital Competition Act to ensure a fair, transparent and contestable digital ecosystem, which will be a boon not only for our country and its nascent startup economy but also for the entire world.
Systemically Important Digital Intermediaries
"India must identify the small number of leading players or market winners that can negatively influence competitive conduct in the digital ecosystem, as 'Systemically Important Digital Intermediaries (SIDIs)' and adopt definitions to ex-ante regulate their behaviour," it recommended further.
SIDI must not favour its own offers
The committee, which is headed by BJP MP Jayant Sinha, has further recommended that an SIDI must not favour its own offers over the offers of its competitors when mediating access to supply and sales markets, in particular, when presenting its own offers in a more favourable manner and also when exclusively pre-installing its own offers on devices or integrating them in any other way in offers provided by the platform.
It further recommends that an SIDI should inform the Competition Commission of India of any intended concentration, where the merging entities or the target of concentration provide services in the digital sector or enable the collection of data, irrespective of whether it is notifiable to the Commission.
Non-discriminatory terms of ranking
Also, a SIDI, it has suggested, must provide to any third-party undertaking -- providing online search engines -- at their request, with access to fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms to ranking, query, click and view data in relation to free and paid search generated by end users on its online search engines.
The committee also opined that regulatory provisions are required to ensure that news publishers are able to establish contracts with SIDIs through a fair and transparent process.
The panel also suggested that a specialised digital markets unit be established within the Competition Commission of India, staffed with skilled experts, academics and attorneys, enabling it to closely monitor SIDIs and emerging SIDIs, provide recommendations to the Centre on designating SIDIs, review SIDI compliance and adjudicate on digital market cases and conduct for efficient and effective monitoring of digital markets per se.
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