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IT ministry to meet industry leaders on draft digital competition law

The IT Ministry has scheduled a meeting with industry associations on Thursday to discuss their views on the draft Digital Competition law that has witnessed startups clash with tech giants in a pitched battle over certain provisions.

The meeting will be chaired by the IT Secretary S Krishnan.

“Numerous representations are being received from industry associations on the draft digital competition Bill, raising serious concerns regarding the impact of the proposed Bill on data and digital markets,” the IT Ministry said in its meeting notice, seen by PTI.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Competition Commission of India (CCI) are likely to attend the meeting.

A source said another meeting has also been scheduled for June 18, when the IT Ministry officials will interact with various companies on the issue.

The discussion comes at a time when the battle lines are drawn within the industry over provisions of the draft bill.

It may be recalled that prominent names like, TrulyMadly, Innov8, QuackQuack, Magicbricks, Hoichoi, and Medibuddy wrote to the government recently in support of ‘ex-ante’ regulations that they said could potentially be a “game-changer” for the Indian startup ecosystem.

These Indian startups had urged the MCA to move forward with the bill “at the earliest” even as they accused the big tech players of often indulging in delay tactics.

Put simply, the ‘ex-ante’ provision aims to ensure that the behaviour of large digital enterprises is proactively monitored and that the CCI intervenes before instances of anti-competitive conduct could transpire.

Currently, the Competition Act primarily envisages an ‘ex-post’ framework of intervention, wherein the CCI intervenes after the occurrence of anti-competitive conduct. and Sharechat were among four companies that had also penned a letter to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), saying they do not agree with the submissions on the draft digital competition bill made by industry association IAMAI of which they are members.

IAMAI’s submission, they claimed, is not reflective of the entire digital startup ecosystem or its diverse membership of over 540 companies.

The startups argued that while only a small fraction of members opposed the ‘ex-ante’ provisions introduced by the Draft Digital Competition Bill (DCB), the submission made by the association (IAMAI) had predominantly echoed “this minority perspective”.

Any opposition to ‘ex-ante’ regulations and continuation of the ‘ex-post regime’ will allow entrenched players to “continue exploiting regulatory gaps to stifle competition and innovation, they had contended.

The letter sent to Corporate Affairs Secretary Manoj Govil was signed by Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder and MD of; Vishnu Moha, Co-founder of Hoichoi; Morgan Cauvin, Head, Government Relations, India and Europe, Middle East, Africa, Match Group; and Manohar Singh Charan, Chief Financial Officer, Sharechat. PTI

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