Competition Law and Big Tech – Issues and Way Forward

INTRODUCTION

Competition law regulates the anti-competitive behaviour of businesses to encourage and preserve market competition. Public and private enforcement are used to enforce the competition law. In China and Russia, it’s referred to as anti-monopoly law. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is an organisation that regulates the anti-competitive behaviour of various businesses.

This may strike a bell because the commission has been in the news in 2019. It was because several organizations were discovered or accused of engaging in unfair trade practices and engaging in illicit commerce. The purpose of this body is to eradicate anti-competitive behaviours, promote and sustain competition, safeguard consumer interests, and ensure free trade in India’s marketplaces.1

India will be concerned about its economic interests, and it will have one of the world’s largest numbers of internet and data consumers. The argument will be that this should be used to build iconic Indian enterprises and provide value to the Indian economy. In this domain, India can compete and become more self-sufficient. Pushing back against large tech isn’t protectionism because it is aimed at limiting the unfair advantages, they use to abuse an open Indian market, and it’s also fair to point out that keeping tech companies out of China didn’t have much of an impact on financial flow or investment in other sectors.

ISSUES TO REGULATE BIG TECHS 2

It will be essential to differentiate between regulations that address actual Big Tech challenges and regulations that use this bigger framework to exert additional control. Addressing such concerns will be easier if the government shows a solid dedication to liberty, a commitment to rooting out crony capitalism, and a commitment to science and technology that is commensurate with India’s challenges.

  1. Potential For Conflict of Interest
  • Many of the big tech companies were not only platforms, as they claimed
  • This is because they started curating and creating their content, potentially creating conflicts of interest
  1. The Power of Monopoly
  • There’s a perception that major tech companies are gaining greater monopoly power, resulting in a lack of open competition, and there’s also a technology-finance connection here
  • The higher the company’s value, the more monopoly rent extraction was required to justify those estimations
  1. Algorithms’ Lack of Accountability
  • The irony of an opaque algorithm serving as the instrument of a free, open, and equitable society was not lost on anyone
  1. The implications for wealth distribution are mixed
  • While the businesses had a significant economic impact, their distributional ramifications were more uneven
  • They have empowered new players, but they also appear to be destroying a lot of competitors
  • These corporations became emblematic of economic and political power disparities
  1. In the regulation of free speech, there is a lack of accountability and standards
  • Big tech companies have established themselves as sovereign powers
  • This was particularly evident in the manner they governed communication, serving as arbiters of acceptable speech with no actual accountability or consistency of norms
  • The notion of a CEO holding almost unrestricted power over an elected president only served to underline the companies’ disproportionate dominance
  1. Big tech’s impact on democracy and democratization
  • As democracies became more polarized, free speech became more weaponized, and the information order became more manipulated, this model would come under further scrutiny. This is a problem that all democracies face

Challenges to Regulate Big Tech

  • In the recent decade, smartphones and the internet of things (IoT) have been a primary growth of big tech company growth. India is currently experiencing a significant surge in smartphone usage, as well as an increase in the number of users who are getting into the internet for the first time. As a result, stringent regulation of Big Techs will leave consumers with no other option.

  • Various apps and technology play a vital role in everyday living. Remote working and learning, public transportation, shopping, telemedicine, on-demand music, and video streaming, among other things, are all connected to technology nowadays. Due to their dominance in the digital arena, tech giants have developed a monopoly in important services

  • The vitality of their services and these tech giants allow individuals to express themselves freely while also putting billions of users on their platforms. Google, for example, is a search engine, whereas Amazon, Flipkart and Myntra are e-commerce sites

  • Cross-platform connectivity is a challenge, for example, Facebook and Google users may sign in and access services from food delivery, grocery delivery, and other businesses. Users’ accounts can be mined with this tool. Regulating the tech companies on their own will be difficult. It is necessary to govern the entire ecosystem to get the desired outcome. However, it is impossible to achieve this uniformity in Big Tech

Way Forward

A traditional view is that the goods that generate positive externalities should be subsidized and governments can grant tax benefits to these Big Tech companies in exchange for their orderly market behaviour. According to the expert committee on NPD, governments should consider legislating the sharing of non-personal data (NPD) owned by these companies for the sake of societal and economic well-being.

The strength of public opinion can also be used to control any harmful behaviour by Big Tech companies. The recent modifications to WhatsApp’s privacy policy relating to the sharing of personal information between WhatsApp and its parent company, Facebook, have been delayed due to widespread public uproar and following legislative actions.

Conclusion

While governments and authorities deal with these issues, Big Tech companies should follow core ethical values in their operations, as companies that seek super monopolistic profits and are greedy to become global powerhouses frequently end up in the ditch.

By:

Allu Hari Narayana

Bennett University

1 https://upscpathshala.com/content/competition-commission-india-upsc-ultimate-brief-cci/ Accessed on 7th July,2021

2 https://empowerias.com/blog/daily-articles/regulation-of-big-tech-and-challenges-empower-ias Accessed on 7th July,2021

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This Content is Protected.