Concluding the CCI’s arguments in the Android appeal case, the Additional Solicitor General of India (ASG), N Venkataraman, on Thursday told the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) that the Digital Data Hegemony of Google should go and the market space be made Available for free, fair and open competition.
After addressing the issues relating to 10 remedies imposed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the ASG submitted that Google should comply with them as already directed by the Supreme Court.
With ASG wrapping up CCI’s arguments in the Android appeal case and Google already having made its substantive submissions, indications are that the NCLAT may reserve it’s final order on the matter. Post the January 19 landmark ruling of the Supreme Court, the NCLAT is now hearing the Google’s appeal to CCI’s October 20 ruling in the Android case, where a penalty of ₹1,337 crore was imposed on the tech giant, besides the competition watchdog issuing 10 non monetary directions.
Venkataraman, in his concluding remarks on Thursday, argued that Google had used its money-spinning Google search as its ‘castle’, and is using rest of the other apps to play the protective and defensive role of ‘moat’ and the result of this ‘castle and moat’ strategy is Data Hegemony which in market economic parlance means big market player tends to get bigger and bigger, while a small entrant struggles to attain a critical mass of users and user data.
ASG went on to say in the modern world, data is the new oil and digital technology is transforming markets at an unprecedented scale and pace and business models and market access are getting reshaped through digital mediation.
This results in data capture and data deployment which gets exploited and monetized as advertisement revenues. When choice is the guiding principle of competition law, Google’s Hegemony reduces both choice and competition, he added.
He said that the digital vision of the nation has already transformed in handling large data gateways like GST and UPI, which has data on crores of persons and entities, all of these are run for public good by public institutions. However, when it comes to private entities, engaging in digital business where there is a steady unstoppable flow of data and traffic the same gets resourcefully calibrated to the sole benefit of these entities and competition law is one important pillar in democratization of data and in achieving the objective of greatest good for the greatest number, he said.
Venkataraman closed his arguments with the final remarks, implementation of the remedies made by the CCI would go a long way towards achieving the National mission of fair and competitive digital marketplace – a market with greater freedom for all players which would be in total sync with principles of free competition rather than the ‘walled garden’ approach of Google.