Center onboard news publishers and startups in the digital panel

Ahead of its crucial meeting on Saturday, the Department of Corporate Affairs (MCA)-appointed digital competition law panel has addressed calls from news publishers and startups, inviting them as “special invitees” to the panel’s deliberations.

Saturday’s meeting — the third since the Digital Competition Law Committee (CDCL) was constituted on February 6 — is crucial as it will be the first opportunity for Big Tech representatives to make presentations on the proposed ex-ante Framework and other regulatory moves are being considered by Indian policymakers. Big Tech representatives such as Google, Meta and Amazon are expected to make presentations/submissions as “special invitees” for the panel.

Both the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA), a body representing digital news publishers, and the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), a think tank of digital startups, will attend Saturday’s meeting as “special invitees,” sources who are familiar with the developments.

This is significant as both DNPA and ADIF have campaigned for their inclusion on the MCA-appointed panel, which currently appears unbalanced due to a dominant presence of law firm representatives, many of whom currently represent Big Tech before NCLAT. In fact, the MCA had recently added two other law firms (representing Google in cases before NCLAT) to the panel as guests, drawing the ire of startups and publishers for digital news that were left out.

leveling of the field

With the inclusion of DNPA and ADIF as “special invitees,” there is now some leveling of the field, sources added. When contacted, DNPA Secretary General Sujata Gupta confirmed that DNPA had been invited to attend the panel’s deliberations as a “special invitee”.

The CDCL was tasked with examining the need for an ex ante framework in the country, international practices on the subject and the existing legal framework. She was mandated to submit her report by May 2023.

The government expects the country’s digital economy to reach $1 trillion by 2025-26 as part of the vision for Digital India.

The MCA set up a 10-member inter-ministerial committee on February 6 to consider the need for a separate competition law in digital markets. Among other things, the committee was tasked with preparing a draft law on digital competition.

The mandate of the panel includes a review of whether the existing provisions of the Competition Act 2002 and the rules and regulations contained therein are sufficient to address the challenges posed by the digital economy and to consider the need for an ex ante regulatory mechanism for digital markets through separate legislation.

The Standing Finance Committee, in its 53rd approx The report, titled ‘Anti-competitive practices by large tech companies’, proposed an ex-ante framework to regulate ‘essential digital intermediaries’ (SIDIs) under a new law on digital competition.

New era

This heralds a new era of ex-ante frameworks designed to only cover SIDIs in digital markets and marks a significant exit from the existing sector-agnostic framework covering all market participants, competition law experts said.

It is crucial to analyze the goals that policymakers seek to achieve through the introduction of ex ante regulations, the challenges that these frameworks and international guidance on the issue may pose. In addition, there is a need to discuss the impact of these frameworks on the startup economy, facilitating competition at downstream levels, encouraging innovation and ensuring consumer interests are protected, they said.

Meanwhile, a roundtable discussion on the future of competition policy in digital markets, hosted by political think tank The Dialogue, highlighted the importance of striking a balance between regulating anti-competitive behavior in digital markets and preventing over-regulation and harm to innovation and consumer interests.

The roundtable discussions, moderated by the Chair of the OECD Competition Committee, Frederic Jenny, stressed that any potential issues related to the forthcoming Digital Competition Act should be analyzed in the context of the impact the regulations will have on key stakeholders such as Start -oops will have. Consumers and investors through comprehensive advice. Center onboard news publishers and startups in the digital panel

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