Digital market: distortions in the digital market must be corrected immediately: CCI

With India emerging as one of the largest and fastest growing digital economies, the distortions in the digital market must be corrected immediately, Chairman of India’s Competition Commission Ashok Kumar Gupta said on Saturday.

“By controlling the data used and real estate online, digital platforms are in a unique position to shape and influence consumer choices on the one hand and direct consumer traffic to their businesses to the other,” Gupta said while addressing the annual competition law conference. and the practice regulated by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) along with the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

He noted that the gatekeeper’s position for these platforms raises concerns about their competition and competitiveness.

Gupta said the impact of these so-called “ecosystems” is exacerbated by policy opacity and the advantage of data it has over both business users and potential competitors.

“While India emerges as one of the largest and fastest growing digital consumer bases, market distortions must be immediately corrected. To meet enforcement and policy challenges in this regard, the regulatory framework is required to adapt to and reverse the complexities of the digital market, reframing classic categories and concerns about personal and non-personal data and adding dimensions of Others for quality and specificity, identifying problems early and causing faster remedial interventions.”

He said the challenges are multidimensional, and the antitrust framework, analysis and concepts need necessary adjustments to reflect the complexities of the digital market.

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Another challenge, he said, is that data-related behavior requires not only reshaping classic antitrust around personal and non-personal data as a relevant asset but adding other dimensions of competition such as quality and privacy.

Although the digital market is prone to skew, early identification of the fastest therapeutic interventions is of paramount importance, he said, adding that the challenges for policy makers and regulators are to keep pace with the evolution in these markets and continue to evolve and improve tools.

Regarding the proposed amendments in the new Competition Amendment Act, which was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 5, he said it aims to provide regulatory certainty, faster market corrections and a trust-based business environment.

Apart from introducing a transaction value threshold and facilitating faster review of merger notifications, the bill is expected to bring a commitment and settlement framework and a leniency regime plus.

Gupta said the bill broadens and deepens the scope of consultations between regulators – an important area for reforms to avoid regulatory overlap.

With the proposed introduction of a three-year restriction period to provide information or referral to CCI for anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position, Gupta assured that it would bring certainty to markets and businesses and that very old cases would not be re-opened.

He said that the authority is also conducting a set of market studies on various sectors, including e-commerce, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and others.

He said CCI is also working to establish the Digital Markets and Data Unit (DMDU) as a center of expertise for digital markets to connect with stakeholders, provide input on policy issues and support data analytics.

Gupta said, CCI has come up with a list of FAQs for stakeholders regarding provision of information, confidentiality provisions, leniency provisions and merger regulations.

He added that to provide more ease of access to stakeholders, after Chennai and Kolkata, CCI will soon have a regional office in Mumbai.

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