Google In Favor Of Ex-Ante Regulations In Certain Cases

Google In Favor Of Ex-Ante Regulations In Certain Cases
Photo: RBC 20.03.2024 269

Google has pointed out how ex-ante regulations should be formulated in India, including specific market-wise activity related SIDI definitions, and phase-wise roll out of the regulations.

Google has said it is opposed to ex-ante regulations in India, except in certain conditions, in its submission to the Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL). It said that ex-ante rules are untested and could harm innovation, but if such regulations were introduced, they should narrowly target specific firms and specific activities based on clear criteria. 

Google’s feedback was made public in the report released by the CDCL on the matter of ex-ante regulation in India, modelled after the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the EU’s new competition law. The Committee has also released the draft Digital Competition Bill, 2024. 

The draft bill prohibits large digital platforms, identified as Systemically Significant Digital Enterprises, from engaging in self-preferencing, restricting third-party apps, imposing anti-steering policies, misusing the data of business users, and bundling products and services. The draft is open for public feedback until April 15. 

What did Google say in its submission?

Most regulatory approaches untested: Google’s submission stated that there was no global consensus on a regulatory framework for digital markets and that a majority remained untested. It also noted that the ex-ante regimes that do exist have rigid rules adversely impacting product innovation and benefits to consumers. 

Consult stakeholders for changes: Google’s submission also urged that any changes that were to be made to competition regulations in India must be made in consultation with stakeholders.

Roll out changes in phases: Google also calls for any changes to be rolled out in a phased manner to avoid regulatory overlaps.

Suggestions for designation of Systemically Important Digital Intermediary (SIDI): Google, however, does not disagree with the designation of firms as Systemically Important Digital Intermediaries (SIDIs), giving suggestions for such designation. According to Google, SIDIs should be labelled based on identified activities in specific markets and on clear criteria. They should also be business-model agnostic. Additionally, these labels must be reviewed periodically.

Separation of duties: Google has called for a clear separation between bodies like those in charge of designating SIDIs and bodies in charge of enforcement, etc.

Allow for evidence-based justification of conduct under scrutiny: Any regulation should allow evidence-based justifications (e.g. pro-competitive) for conduct under scrutiny.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined Google twice in 2022: $162 million for anti-competitive practices in the Android ecosystem and $113 million for abuse of dominance in Google Play.

In March 2024, CCI ordered an investigation into Google’s Users Choice Billing (UCB) system. Indian app developers and representatives of local startups have repeatedly complained about what they consider to be unfair commission rates on Google Play.

Source:  Medianama

digital markets  India 

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