INDIA'S POLICY RESPONSES TO BIG TECH: AND AN EYE ON THE RISE OF 'ALT BIG TECH'
Indian Journal of Law and Technology, Volume 18, Issue 1, 2022
The term ‘big tech’ offers a helpful and widely used label for describing the world’s most powerful technology companies. The challenges posed by big tech across the domains of competition, innovation, human rights, and social and political impact are real and immediate. So is the need for building more effective checks against them. India is still in the early stages of formulating its strategy on big tech, through the traditional playbook of competition, enforcement, and domain-specific regulatory interventions. But it has also adopted a more novel strategy of relying on open APIs and interoperability standards to counter the market features that enable the concentration of power in the hands of dominant tech players.
The paper studies the Unified Payments Interface, the Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture, and the Open Network for Digital Commerce as examples of such technical systems. It argues that while recognising the innovation and progress of these new systems, it is also important to keep an eye on their potential to emerge as ‘alt big tech’ – systems that create new opportunities for dominance and power play that can bear significant consequences for competition, innovation, and public interest in the long run.
A STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET: EXPLORING THE JIO EFFECT
In the Philosophy and Law of Information Regulation in India, published by the Centre for Law & Policy Research
Smriti Parsheera and Vishal Trehan
In this paper we take a closer look at the structural developments in the Indian telecommunications market post Reliance Jio’s arrival in 2016. We do this based on a survey of the relevant literature on competition in the digital communications sector, a review of the CCI’s decisions, and analysis of the monthly subscriber data and quarterly performance indicator reports released by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India. Our analysis points to two key trends – growing concentration in the mobile telecom market and increasing cross-links across the telecom, content and device layers. Further, we argue that Jio’s dominance must also be viewed in light of the reality of it being a part of the Reliance conglomerate, its recent strategic alliances with companies like Facebook and Google, and a carefully curated image of being a swadesi counter to global big tech. All of these can be viwed as determinants of Jio’s soft power.
PERSONAL DATA AND CONSUMER WELFARE IN THE DIGITAL ECONOMY
Smriti Parsheera and Sarang Moharir
SSRN, 5 February, 2020
Safeguarding user rights and maximising consumer welfare in the digital economy, particularly in the context of personal data, requires an integrated approach that cuts across the fields of competition, consumer protection, and data protection. Current and proposed regulatory frameworks in India, however, continue with a silo-based approach offering limited scope for cross-sectional analysis of consumer welfare issues in digital markets. We argue for the need to create appropriate legal and institutional mechanisms to facilitate interactions across the fields of competition, consumer protection, and data protection policies as well as sectoral policies.
CHALLENGES OF COMPETITION AND REGULATION IN THE TELECOM SECTOR
Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. LIII, No. 38, 22 September, 2018
The telecommunications sector has come a long way from its perceived status as a natural monopoly to a competitive multiplayer industry. As competitive forces, both from within the telecom industry and the surrounding digital ecosystem, continue to redefine the sector’s dynamics, it creates new challenges for regulation and competition enforcement. This paper calls for fresh thinking on the respective roles of the sectoral regulator, the competition authority and the need for greater synergies between them. A model for voluntary cooperation between the authorities is suggested.
CCI'S ORDER AGAINST GOOGLE: INFANT STEPS OR A COMING-OF-AGE MOMENT?
The LEAP Blog, 22 February, 2018.
This piece analyses the CCI's decision in the abuse of dominance case against Google, summarising the takeaways from this decision and highlighting some key concerns. The criticisms include CCI's reliance on qualitative and descriptive accounts to establish Google's violations instead of evidence-based analysis of click-through-rates, ranking measurements, etc and lack of any broader guidance on demarcating general product design elements from particularly egregious conduct that merits competition intervention.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF JIO'S PREDATORY PRICING ANALYSIS
The LEAP Blog, 27 April, 2017
Reliance Jio's entry into the telecom market has led to concerns of predatory pricing by other operations that were considered both by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the Competition Commission of India. This piece assesses the factors that should inform the CCI's analysis in the complaint that was filed before it by Airtel against Jio's pricing practices. It analyses the features of the market and its voice, data and content components as well as the trend towards integration of data and content services . Based on this analysis it recommends a multi-stage, data-driven approach rooted in an understanding of competition policy and telecom economics.