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Govt extends deadline for comments on draft Digital Competition Bill till May 15

The government has extended the deadline for submitting stakeholder comments on the draft digital competition bill by one month to May 15. It has also extended the deadline for submission of comments by stakeholders on the report of Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL).

The initial deadline is to end on April 15. Earlier, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) had invited comments of stakeholders on the report of CDCL as well as draft digital competition bill under e-consultation module by April 15.

However, in a notice on Tuesday the ministry said it had considered “the requests received from various stakeholders, and the last date of submitting the comments/ suggestions is extended till 15th May, 2024”. It also said stakeholders could send in their comments via email, apart from the e-consultation module.

In March this year, fair trade regulator proposed digital competition bill which seeks to put in place several obligations for large digital enterprises, including news aggregators, as part of efforts to ensure a level-playing field and fair competition in the digital space. After being set up in February last year, the Committee on Digital Competition Law came out with its report and a draft bill wherein the focus is on having ex-ante regulations to prevent possible anti-competitive practices.

The draft bill has put several obligations on Systemically Significant Digital Enterprises (SSDEs) in Core Digital Services (CDS) to operate in a fair and non-discriminatory way with end users and business users. CDS will cover online intermediation services, which will include news aggregators.

For SSDEs, the panel has recommended various thresholds, including a base value of Rs 4,000 crore for Indian turnover, at least 1 crore end users or a minimum of 10,000 business users in India. Among others, the gross merchandise value (GMV) should be at least Rs 16,000 crore and the global market capitalisation base value of USD 75 billion.

For unlisted companies, the committee has suggested that a value equivalent to a global market capitalisation that similarly indicates the financial position of unlisted companies is computed in a manner as may be prescribed by the central government. In case of violations, the panel has proposed a penalty of up to 10 per cent of a company’s global turnover.

The bill has proposed ex-ante competition regulations for big tech players to ensure proactive monitoring of their behaviours and curb any possible unfair business practices. PTI

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