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Tech giants lobby India to reconsider proposed competition law

A US lobby group representing tech giants Google, Amazon and Apple has asked India to rethink its proposed EU-like competition law, arguing regulations against data use and preferential treatment of partners could raise user costs, a letter shows.

Citing increasing market power of a few big digital companies in India, a government panel in February proposed imposing obligations on them under a new antitrust law which will complement existing regulations whose enforcement the panel said is “time-consuming”.

India’s “Digital Competition Bill” is on the lines of EU’s landmark Digital Markets Act 2022. It will apply to big firms, including those with a global turnover of over $30 billion and whose digital services have at least 10 million users locally, bringing some of the world’s biggest tech firms under its ambit.

It proposes to prohibit companies from exploiting non-public data of its users and promoting their own services over rivals, and also abolish restrictions on downloading of third-party apps.

Companies deploy these strategies to launch new product features and boost security for users, and curbing them will hit their plans, the US-India Business Council (USIBC), part of the US Chamber of Commerce, said in a May 15 letter to India’s Corporate Affairs Ministry, which is working on the law.

The draft Indian law is “much further in scope” than the EU’s, says the letter, which has not been made public but was seen by Reuters.

“Targeted companies are likely to reduce investment in India, pass on increased prices for digital services, and reduce the range of services,” it says.

The USIBC, which has asked India to reconsider the planned law, did not respond to Reuters queries, and neither did the Corporate Affairs Ministry, Apple, Amazon or Google.

With a population of 1.4 billion people and a growing affluent class, India is a lucrative market for big tech companies. Apple CEO Tim Cook said this month the company posted a “revenue record” in India during the March quarter, when its overall global revenue declined 4 per cent. Reuters

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