With India emerging as one of the biggest and fastest digital economies, distortions in digital market need to be corrected promptly, Competition Commission of India chairperson Ashok Kumar Gupta said on Saturday. "With control over used data and online real estate, the digital platforms are in a unique position to shape and influence consumer choices on one hand and steer consumer traffic to their businesses to the other," Gupta said while addressing the Annual Conference on Competition Law and Practice organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) along with Competition Commission of India (CCI).
The gatekeeper position of these platforms is giving rise to concerns over their competition and contestability, he noted. The impact of these 'so-called ecosystems' is compounded by the opacity in policies and the data advantage they have over both business users and potential competitors, Gupta said.
"While India emerges as one of the biggest and fastest growing digital consumer bases, market distortions need to be corrected promptly. To address the challenges of enforcement and policy in this regard, the regulatory framework needed to adapt and reflect digital market complexities, reframe classic categories and concerns around personal and non-personal data and add other dimensions of quality and privacy, identify issues early on and cause faster remedial interventions," he added. The challenges are multi-dimensional, and the antitrust, analytical and conceptual framework need necessary adaptations to reflect digital market complexities, he said.
Another challenge is that the data related conduct not only requires reshaping the classic antitrust around personal and non-personal data as the relevant asset but adding other dimensions of competition such quality and privacy, he stated. Even though the digital market is prone to tipping, earlier identification of faster remedial interventions are of paramount importance, he said, adding that the challenges for policy makers and regulators is to keep abreast of the development in these markets and continue to evolve and refine the tools.
With respect to proposed amendments in the new Competition Amendment Bill, introduced in Lok Sabha on August 5, he said it aims to provide regulatory certainty, faster market corrections and trust-based business environment. Apart from introducing deal value threshold and facilitating faster-review of merger notifications, the Bill is expected to bring in commitment and settlement framework, and the leniency plus regime.
Gupta said the Bill broadens and deepens the scope of inter-regulatory consultations — a crucial area for reforms to avoid regulatory overlaps. With the proposed introduction of a limitation period of three years for filing information or reference before CCI for anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position, Gupta assured that it would bring certainty to markets and business and that very old cases will not be re-opened.
The Commission has also been conducting a host of market studies on various sectors, including e-commerce, telecom and pharmaceutical, among others, he said. CCI is also in the process of setting up a Digital Markets and Data Unit (DMDU) as a centre of expertise for digital markets to engage with stakeholders, provide inputs on policy issues and support data analytics, he said.
Gupta said, CCI has come out with a list of FAQs for the benefit of stakeholders on filing information, confidentiality provisions, leniency provisions and merger regulations. To provide further ease of access to stakeholders, after Chennai and Kolkata, CCI will have a regional office in Mumbai soon, he added.