Tech giants oppose India’s EU-like antitrust proposal

Image Source: Reuters

A U.S. lobby group representing tech giants Google, Amazon, and Apple has raised concerns over India’s proposed Digital Competition Bill, urging the government to reconsider its similarities to the EU’s Digital Markets Act, Reuters reported. The bill aims to regulate the market power of large digital firms operating in India, setting thresholds for global turnover and local user base. It seeks to restrict practices such as exploiting non-public user data and preferential treatment of their own services over rivals, and to facilitate the downloading of third-party apps.

In a letter dated May 15, the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, expressed reservations about the broad scope of the proposed law. The letter, not publicly released but seen by Reuters, argued that restricting these strategies could hinder companies’ ability to innovate new features and enhance security measures for users. It also warned that targeted companies might reduce investment in India, increase digital service costs, and limit service offerings.

India, with its population of 1.4 billion people and a growing affluent class, represents a lucrative market for global tech giants. However, the Indian government’s panel asserts that the new law is necessary due to the immense control exerted by a few large digital enterprises over the market. Similar to the EU legislation, the proposed bill suggests penalties of up to 10% of a company’s global annual turnover for violations, aiming to curb monopolistic practices and create a more competitive environment.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been actively investigating big tech firms for years. In 2022, the CCI fined Google $161 million for restricting users from removing its pre-installed apps and for constraints on app downloads without using its app store, citing user security reasons. Amazon is also under scrutiny for allegedly favoring select sellers on its Indian platform, while Apple faces an investigation for potential abuse of its dominant position in the apps market.

Despite opposition from tech giants, a group of 40 Indian startups has voiced support for the proposed law, arguing that it could help counter monopolistic practices and foster a level playing field for smaller companies in the digital space. The Indian government is now reviewing feedback on the bill before potentially seeking parliamentary approval, with or without revisions, in the coming months.

Written by Sophie Blake


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