Why Indian start-ups have accused the Internet and Mobile Association of India of spreading ‘Big Tech propaganda’

Context: Recently Prominent founders of some of the country’s new-age businesses have accused the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) of “promoting the views” of big tech companies such as Google and Meta and have called into question its organisational structure, which is led by representatives of such tech companies.

Why the accusations?

IAMAI criticised the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance to introduce a new law for tackling Big Tech firms’ anti-competitive practices.

What were the recommendations of the Parliamentary Penal?

  • To curb anti-competitive practices in digital markets, last December, the panel proposed measures like having ex-ante regulations, which are meant to protect consumers by requiring companies to follow certain standards of behaviour, as opposed to post-ante regulations that can only punish an entity after it has breached a law.
  •  designating Big Tech entities as “systemically important digital intermediaries” and then subjecting them to certain ex-ante provisions.
  •  a new digital competition law.
  • It asked digital market entities to desist from “anti-steering”, “deep discounting”, “self-preferencing”, “search & ranking preferencing” and other promotional practices that lead to consumers going for these companies in the market, impacting competition.

Why do we need new digital competition law?

  •  Competition Act, of 2002, covers services but there is ambiguity regarding digital services.
  •  Digital services have a great impact on the consumption of other goods and services this aspect is not covered under the existing Act.
  • The digital world has a large impact on polity and society as it has become a tool of narrative formation that is being used and misused by political leaders.
  •  We are facing the rising issue of fake news, digital propaganda etc.

Mains Practice Question

Do you think there is a need to bring new digital competition law? Discuss in light of recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in this regard.

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