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Why does India’s parliamentary panel want ex-ante regulation for Big Tech?

The panel says it is necessary to define ‘gatekeepers’ and subject them to ex-ante provisions specific to anti-competitive practices.

To address competition concerns arising out of fast-evolving digital markets, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance has strongly recommended ex-ante regulations for online businesses, especially the Big Tech. This essentially means having a system in place to regularly monitor the business conduct of big firms and put forth restraints before an antitrust event has occurred. The Committee in its report titled ‘Anti-Competitive Practices by Big-Tech Companies’ states that it is necessary to define ‘gatekeepers’ or ‘critical service’ online platforms, which include marketplaces, app stores and sectors including mobility, travel, food and content sharing among others. These ‘gatekeepers’ in a digital market would then be subjected to ex-ante provisions specific to anti-competitive practices and the allegations will be tested against them accordingly, in the event of a dispute. This will help in speedy and efficient disposal of cases, the report adds. “We strongly feel that ex-ante provisions are required. It is a different issue altogether who will be administering it, but we do need it,” the Competition Commission of India (CCI) noted in its submission to the panel. Why ex-ante regulation? According to the report: India’s current Competition Act is designed in a way that enables dealing with unfair business practices only when an anti-competitive behaviour or dispute has occurred, which is acting post event of dispute. Current ex-post methods of penalising anti-competitive behaviour on a case-to-case basis results in prolonged investigation and does not help in preventing the “irreparable harm to affected parties” during that period. Ex-post methods do not…

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Curious about the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights. For story tips, please feel free to reach out at sarasvati@medianama.com

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