Regulation of big-tech from India

This is slowly happening (and we must be concerned with the type of regulatory headwinds following here). I am quoting this directly from ET Prime; though it is behind the paywall, I am including the most relevant passages.

Can Jayant Sinha-led parliamentary panel’s suggestions put a leash on Big Tech in India? – The Economic Times

Sinha explains the steps the Committee has proposed in this budget session on regulating the behaviour of Big Tech and the rationale behind the Committee’s report on Big Tech. “It is very clear that Big Tech’s anti-competitive behaviour has to be regulated ex-ante. And to that, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, which I chair, has put out a report suggesting that India should also have a legislation that, ex-ante, regulates anti-competitive behaviours,” Sinha says. Stating that this is an approach that has already been adopted by the European Union, being considered seriously in the US, Japan, and in other jurisdictions, Sinha says, “This is because digital markets behave very differently from traditional markets. In terms of competitive dynamics, these markets are subject to increasing return effects that result in the winner-takes-all outcomes.” “Hence, by the time you deal with many of these competitive behaviours, ex-ante, that is after the fact, markets have already tipped, and gone towards one or two or three players and resulted in monopolistic outcomes, which is not good for either consumers or long-term innovation,” he adds.

emphasis mine

The regulatory markets seem to move slowly. I am no legal expert, but these domains are highly specialised, even in the legal fraternity. Part of the reason, of course, is that these are not yet tested extensively in the courts, and will require creative interpretation of laws to ensure benefit to consumers, while not “stifling” the “animal spirits”. However, the unrestricted usage of data is over. There are several pointers around keeping data in close custody of specific geographic locales, and now what’s uniquely an Indian concept of “data diplomacy” – to park other countries’ data locally. The details around these are sparse, but I’ll be looking at them closely to understand how policy statutes evolve.

India is definitely veering towards blockchains:

Sinha says that there should be a balance between regulation and innovation. “The government of India has already indicated its tax policies with respect to these crypto tokens of various kinds. And it’s the markets and regulators that will decide which of these use cases for crypto tokens are going to be the most productive and the safest.” Sinha said that blockchain technology, on the other hand, “has many very interesting use cases”. “In all of these situations, you always have to balance regulation with innovation, so that you’re maximising public interest and ensuring that these new technologies while enhancing productivity and an ease of use on this at the same time not used for illicit purposes or illegal purposes” Sinha adds

Exactly my sentiment.

However, the European Union shouldn’t be held up as a “standard”. Their needs for regulation evolved around knee-capping the American big-tech because of their utter failure (and incompetence) around anything worthwhile. I am not discounting their manufacturing (if it has not been outsourced to China). However, in terms of anything like Google/ Browsers or web 2.0 products, the EU has come out to be a cropper. Therefore, data privacy appears to be a fig leaf, while virtue signalling “climate and sustainability”. Besides, their fines appear to be the cost of doing business. While Apple signals some changes to its “ecosystem”, it is zealously guarding its coop. India shouldn’t go on the legal quixotic way. Instead, it requires creating an ecosystem of academics to “debate” the merits around regulation of the technological landscape.

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