Nearly 40 Indian start-ups, have come out strongly in support of the draft Digital Competition Bill which proposes ex-ante regulations to curb anti-competitive practices of Big Tech companies. “We see it as a catalyst for creating a fairer and more competitive digital ecosystem in the country, one that allows start-ups to thrive,” the companies said in a letter to Manoj Govil, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).

The companies — Matrimony.com, TrulyMadly, Innov8, QuackQuack, Magicbricks, Hoichoi and Medibuddy — have written to the MCA saying that the Bill is a step in the right direction and it will address long-standing concerns of the Indian start-ups to rein in practices which stifle innovation, limit consumer choice and hinder the growth of young businesses.

The Committee on Digital Competition Law published its report in March this year outlining the challenges associated with anti-competitive practices of digital enterprises such as anti-steering, self-preferencing, tying and bundling in the digital markets in India. The report proposed a Digital Competition Bill providing for ex-ante regulations to curb these anti-competitive practices and was open for public consultation of comments till May 15, 2024.

While requesting that the government move forward with the Bill at the earliest, the start-ups have also asked for an upward revision of the thresholds for designating Systematically Significant Digital Enterprises (SSDEs). They have argued that the Bill should only target the real gatekeepers of the internet — firms that have long enjoyed dominant positions, accumulating extensive resources and influence to shape the rules of the digital ecosystem. By narrowly targeting the new law, the government can rein in monopolistic practices while making sure that Indian start-ups have the space to grow within India and beyond Indian borders, to compete globally.

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