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Apple, Microsoft, Netflix among big tech bunch asked to attend India antitrust hearings

On July 21, the committee conducted a hearing that was attended by top executives of eight domestic tech firms, including Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal

July 22, 2022 / 04:02 PM IST

Technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Netflix are being invited to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance’s hearings next week on alleged anti-competitive practices of big tech firms.

“We are extending invitations to Meta, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and others. Even if  they are not able to attend, there will be representatives from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the Competition Commission of India (to communicate their own positions on the matter),” said Jayant Sinha, chairperson of the committee and a Member of Parliament from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

On July 21, the committee conducted a hearing that was attended by top executives of eight domestic tech firms, including Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal. Representatives from Flipkart, MakeMyTrip, Zomato and Swiggy also attended the meeting.

“We covered a wide range of topics as digital markets cover everything from e-commerce to ride sharing. After all the hearings are concluded, we will present our findings in a report," said Sinha.

According to people in the know, there were discussions about widening the ambit of CCI’s powers with regards to the tech industry. Moreover, alleged unfair practices by big tech companies to further their dominance, commissions charged by tech platforms and allegations of predatory pricing also came up.

Moneycontrol has sent queries to the big tech companies on the hearings next week, and the article will be updated when they respond.

In recent times, there have been complaints about alleged anti-competitive ways of various technology platforms and firms. The competition watchdog is already probing various cases, especially in the digital space, following complaints of alleged unfair business practices.

On April 28, the CCI made a presentation about competition aspects in the marketplace to the parliamentary panel.

After that meeting, Sinha had said the panel had "an excellent set of discussions" with officials from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and CCI.

Meanwhile, a report presented by another parliamentary committee on June 21 expressed surprise at the undue delay in amending competition laws in the country to bring them up to date with developments in the platform economy.

“The pre-condition for assessing whether a certain practice is abusive under Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 is to establish that the entity in question is dominant within the relevant market. Establishing dominance in relevant markets is fraught with complexities due to the multisided and cross cutting nature of e-commerce market,” it said. 

“It has been argued that many tools that are traditionally used in the assessment of relevant market may not adequately capture features such as the impact of direct and indirect network effects on prices, the presence of interconnected but distinct markets on different sides of the platform, and the implicit price of data paid by a consumer,” the report added.
Deepsekhar Choudhury Deepsekhar covers tech and startups at Moneycontrol. Tweets at @deepsekharc
first published: Jul 22, 2022 04:02 pm