MeitY Postpones Digital Communications Bill

MeitY postponed the meeting on Digital Competition Bill with industry, and informs that the much anticipated Digital Competition Bill (DCB) is not expected to be presented in the forthcoming legislative session. Since, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) is still in the process of reviewing feedback on a preliminary version of the bill and the report from the Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL), according to the spokesperson.

Before the bill can be submitted for Cabinet approval, there will be another round of discussions among various ministries and additional public input, says the official. Moreover,”We are not considering the upcoming session for the introduction of the bill. That is off the table, as we need to thoroughly process the extensive feedback we've received," the senior official remarked.

The DCB proposes a preventive law for digital markets to regulate companies with a substantial presence in India. These ex-ante measures are designed to work alongside the existing Competition Act's ex-post framework. The MCA has reportedly received a range of opinions on the CDCL and draft DCB from digital sector participants.

However, Major technology companies are against the implementation of any ex-ante framework, citing concerns about potential negative impacts on innovation and investment. Conversely, the startup community generally supports the DCB, viewing it as a means to establish a fairer digital marketplace.

Also, there may be jurisdictional conflicts and overlapping responsibilities with the involvement of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, both of which are examining competition issues in digital markets.

It is worth noting that approximately 40 Indian start-ups have voiced their strong support for the draft Digital Competition Bill, which introduces ex-ante regulations to counteract anti-competitive behaviours by major technology companies. They have urged the government to expedite the bill's progress and have requested an increase in the criteria for identifying Systematically Significant Digital Enterprises (SSDEs).

The start-ups contend that the bill should focus exclusively on the true gatekeepers of the internet—entities that have long held dominant positions and have amassed significant resources and influence to dictate the norms of the digital landscape.

By carefully targeting the new legislation, the government can curtail monopolistic tendencies while ensuring that Indian start-ups have the opportunity to expand both within India and internationally, allowing them to compete on a global stage.


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