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HomeTechMCA packs Digital Competition law Panel with more Big Tech counsels

MCA packs Digital Competition law Panel with more Big Tech counsels

In what could further irk startups and digital news publishers, the Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA) has expanded the ten-member Panel —set up to frame the Digital Competition Act —with representatives of two more law firms that are currently representing Google in cases before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

The addition of the law firms to the Panel as invitees would mean that the Committee will have seven law firms, majority of whom are representing Big Tech in various cases. 

The representatives of these two firms also participated at the second meeting of the Panel held in the capital on Saturday, sources close to the developments said. 

Already, digital publishers have expressed concern that they have not been Co-opted or brought in as special invitees into the Panel, which means that they cannot effectively participate in the deliberations of the Committee and play a critical role in fashioning the proposed new law. This would be critical for the survival of digital news publishers in the fast-growing Indian digital markets ecosystem.

Stakeholder consultations

Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) had on Saturday submitted their views to the Panel as part of stakeholder consultations. “We have today submitted our views to the Panel and we seriously hope that soon MCA will Co-opt us as well into the Panel”, Sujata Gupta, Secretary General, DNPA told businessline after the meeting on Saturday.

At today’s meeting, Alliance for Digital India Foundation (ADIF)—a think tank of digital Startups — has also submitted its views as part of stakeholder consultations, sources added. The MCA appointed Panel is likely to again meet on Saturday next.

The Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA) had on February 6 constituted a ten-member inter-ministerial committee to examine the need for a separate law on competition in digital markets. The panel had been, among other things, tasked to prepare a draft Digital Competition Act.

The Panel’s terms of reference include a review as to whether existing provisions of the Competition Act 2002 and the rules and regulations framed thereunder are sufficient to deal with the challenges that have emerged from the digital economy and to examine the need for an ex-ante regulatory mechanism for digital markets through separate legislation.

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