Digital Competition Bill: Its core needs strengthening

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Digital Competition Bill

Source: This article ‘’ has been created based on the article Digital Competition Bill: Its core needs strengthening, published in Live Mint on 12th June 2024.

UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2 – Governance – Government policies for various sectors

News:  The Ministry of Corporate Affairs recently concluded public consultations on the draft Digital Competition Bill (DCB) and the findings of the Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL).

The CDCL highlighted the necessity of a robust framework to support the rapid growth of India’s digital ecosystem. It recommended introducing ex-ante measures through the DCB to complement the existing ex-post framework under the Competition Act. Digital Competition Bill: Its core needs strengthening

What are the key provisions of draft Digital Competition Bill (DCB)?

Stages in the process

  1. Identification of core digital services (CDS).
  2. Designation of Systemically Significant Digital Enterprises (SSDE) for each CDS.
  3. Mandatory ex-ante compliance obligations for an SSDE.
  4. Penalties for non-compliance by an SSDE.

Identification of CDS

The CDCL suggests pre-identifying certain digital services prone to market concentration based on the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) experience and global practices.

Nine digital services, including online search engines and video-sharing platforms, have been identified as CDS.

For more details about the billClick Here

What are the concerns related to the bill?

Identification of CDS: Unlike the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), the DCB lacks clear guidelines on identifying CDS, raising concerns about fairness and transparency.

The DCB needs a systematic approach for updating the CDS list, with the CCI better positioned to propose amendments based on its dealings with anti-competitive practices.

Double Penalty: The proposed ex-ante regime under the DCB could lead to a double penalty for SSDEs, as it would operate alongside the existing ex-post regime under the Competition Act. The CDCL suggests rationalizing penalties to avoid disproportionate punishments for the same conduct under both regimes. This should be codified in the statute for clarity.

What should be done?

Strengthening the DCB: The government should refine the DCB based on public feedback, ensuring it clearly defines the framework within which the CCI operates. Building a robust ex-ante regime requires addressing concerns about certainty and fairness.

Enhancing CCI’s Technical Capacity: The CCI should enhance its technical capacity and establish a Digital Markets and Data Unit to effectively implement the DCB while maintaining its ex-post responsibilities.

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