IAMAI’s position is opposed by a few companies and individuals from the Indian startup ecosystem, but they disagree, saying they support such a regulation and that Big Tech giants were responsible for the industry body’s rejection.
The Indian startup ecosystem has criticised the industry group Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) for “parroting views of Big Tech companies.” This critique is focused in particular on a draught submission created by IAMAI over whether the nation needs a separate statute to address the anti-competitive practises of Big Tech firms.
According to a previous Moneycontrol post, the IAMAI, which is made up of the Indian divisions of Big Tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Meta, and others, lobbied against the necessity for a separate Digital Competition Law on the grounds that it will hurt startups, raise regulatory costs, and other things.
The points were presented in a draught report that will be provided to the Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL); a group established to examine the necessity for a unique law governing competition in digital markets.
A few Indian startup ecosystem companies and individuals, however, disagree with IAMAI’s stance, arguing that they support such a regulation and that Big Tech firms influenced the industry body’s rejection. Such startups are advocating for IAMAI amendments.
“Unfortunately, the chairperson and vice chairperson of IAMAI today are both Google employees. Therefore, it is heavily influenced by the goals of the major tech corporations around the world. For instance, Murugavel Janakiraman, CEO of BharatMatrimony told Moneycontrol that IAMAI did nothing regarding the Google billing issue. Currently, the company is not an IAMAI member. The Google billing issue is the announcement made by the corporation that it will start enforcing its rule mandating developers to use its own billing system and pay 30 percent of the sales produced as a service fee starting in October 2020. Indian coders reacted strongly against Google.
Ex-ante rules governing competition in the digital environment are in effect everywhere. Regarding the need for a digital competition law, he said that it has been acknowledged that such regulations are necessary because the big international tech companies are mutating into monopolies.
In order to encourage internet usage and digital entrepreneurship in India, Janakiraman noted that he and five other businessmen created IAMAI in 2005. However, he pointed out that over time, multinational corporations have taken over the association.
Moneycontrol has contacted IAMAI with more questions regarding the issue; if a response is received, the story will be updated.
CEO and executive director of MapMyIndia Rohan Verma stated in a tweet that “It’s distressing to know that IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) – @IAMAIForum – is parroting & promoting views that are Anti-Indian and Pro-Foreign Big Tech.”
According to Verma of Moneycontrol, MapMyIndia was formerly a member of IAMAI but hasn’t been for a few years. Another IAMAI member, PhonePe, provides financial support to the mapping company.
IAMAI “must be given no credence” or “change immediately,” according to Verma.
Every nation has its own trade organisations that support its domestic businesses both domestically and abroad.
“It’s unfortunate to see various Indian trade bodies enticed by and acting on behalf of foreign companies’ interests,” he added.
Similarly, Anupam Mittal, founder of Shaadi.com, stated, “Start-ups strongly support a strong anti-monopoly Digital Act.” In fact, IAMAI is failing to lobby for Big Tech misinformation and propaganda… India’s @CCI_India and PMOIndia are more knowledgeable (sic).”
Anand Lunia, founding partner of India Quotient, also joined the increasing chorus of opposition to IAMAI, tweeting, “Hope @PMOIndia knows this!!!! Policymakers do not want to be regarded as beholden to Big Tech. As a result, they consult IAMAI, an organisation that claims to represent Indian companies but is run by Big Tech…”
What happened before
In December, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance issued a report recommending the creation of a Digital Competition Law, as well as classifying Big Tech companies as Systemically Important Digital Intermediaries (SIDIs) based on their revenues, market capitalization, and end users.
It also asked Big Tech companies to give advertisers and publishers access to the performance-measuring tools and data they need to conduct independent ad verification.
A few months later, in February, the government established the Committee on Digital Competition Law, or CDCL, to investigate the “need for a separate law on competition in digital markets.”
A draught document from the IAMAI has been prepared for submission to the CDCL, however sources have suggested that adjustments may be made before the document is finally given to the committee.
IAMAI stated in the draught of its response to the Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL), which Moneycontrol has read, “IAMAI is concerned that the recommendations in the Report (of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance) are neither targeted nor proportionate.”
The report’s ambiguous, broad recommendations will stifle innovation, competition, and the benefit that accrues to markets and users because it lacks a clearly stated policy objective and fails to use evidence to determine the need for the regulation, according to the draught submission.