UPSC Editorial Analysis

Regulation of Big-Tech Firms in India and Abroad

GS Paper 2 - Government Policies & Interventions, Statutory Bodies


The fight between a big technology company like Google and multiple Indian enterprises began years ago, when app developers filed a complaint with the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The complaint claimed that Google was exploiting its dominant position in the Android and Play Store ecosystems. Specifically, the search engine was accused of forcing app developers to adopt Google’s own payment system or pay a price if they chose a competitor’s service.

The issue is still unfolding, and the CCI has directed its Director General to undertake an inquiry and provide a report within 60 days. It is probable that the decision, as expected by the CCI, would find Google’s acts in breach of the Competition Act of 2002.

About Big-Tech Firms

  • Big Tech refers to the world’s largest and most prominent technological corporations. These corporations exert enormous power and influence in a variety of industries because of their high market capitalization, innovative goods and services, and large user base.
  • Some well-known examples are Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.
  • These companies typically dominate their respective marketplaces, occupying monopolistic or oligopolistic positions. They have significant impact over industry trends, consumer behavior, and even governmental policy. Eg – Amazon, Facebook, Google
  • Big-Tech Companies are noted for their constant innovation, which propels developments in industries such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and digital entertainment. Eg – Apple, Microsoft, Tesla.

Challenges and Issues

  • Data Collection & Privacy Concerns – Big Tech companies gather vast amounts of user data through their platforms and services, raising concerns about privacy, surveillance, and data security.
  • Regulatory Scrutiny & Antitrust Concerns – Big Tech businesses frequently attract regulatory attention and antitrust probes as a result of their market dominance, alleged anti-competitive activity, and potential infringement of consumer rights.
  • Antitrust laws are regulations that aim to promote fair competition in the marketplace by preventing monopolistic practices, price fixing, and other activities that could harm consumers or stifle competition.
  • Big-tech companies wield immense power and influence, often dominating multiple sectors of the digital economy, which can stifle competition and innovation. In the case of Google, allegations of leveraging its dominant position to compel app developers to use its payment system highlight the need for effective safeguards against anti-competitive practices.

Measures taken to regulate Big-Techs

EU’s Initiative

  • In March 2024, the European Commission launched ‘non-compliance investigations’ against so-called Big Techs (Apple, Meta, and Google’s parent Alphabet) as part of a slew of measures to ensure “contestable and fair markets in the digital sector” in accordance with the provisions of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) of 2022.
  • It will also look at Amazon’s ranking tactics in its marketplace.

India’s Stand

  • Competition Act, 2002: In India, antitrust problems are handled under the Competition Act of 2002, and the CCI monitors monopolistic behavior.
  • Competition Amendment Bill, 2022: The government has proposed changes to the competition legislation in the Competition Amendment Bill, 2022. In April 2023, the Bill gained Presidential Assent.

Concerns with Functioning of Big-Techs

  • Prioritizing In-House Services: The non-compliance investigations concern Alphabet’s alleged rules on steering or directing its customers to its in-house services over those of its competitors. Apple will be investigated for allegedly similar practices in its App Store, as well as the way it positions its Safari browser.
  • Discriminatory Approach Adopted by Big Tech: The European Commission wants to see if Google’s search results are biased, particularly if the corporation emphasizes its own verticals above competitors’ services.
  • Lowering Choices For Customers: According to the US Department of Justice, the behavior affected customers by degrading the quality of their search, restricting options, and inhibiting innovation. Amazon is also under fire for tweaking its marketplace listings in a similar way.
  • Concerns Over Meta’s ‘Binary-Choice’: Meta launched a subscription plan that allowed consumers in the EU, European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland to access Facebook and Instagram without adverts. Alternatively, people might continue to use these services for free while seeing adverts that are relevant to them, therefore agreeing to tailored advertising.

Potential Solutions and Regulatory Frameworks

  • Addressing the issues created by giant digital companies necessitates a multidimensional approach that includes regulatory supervision, technical innovation, and stakeholder involvement.
  • Regulatory authorities must take proactive steps to monitor and remedy anti-competitive behavior, promote transparency and accountability, and maintain a fair playing field for all market players. This might include enforcing tighter antitrust legislation, improving competition enforcement procedures, and encouraging better coordination between regulatory agencies and industry players.
  • Furthermore, increasing competition and diversity in the digital marketplace through initiatives such as open standards, interoperability, and support for indigenous technologies can help to reduce the dominance of giant tech companies and build a more dynamic and inclusive digital ecosystem.


The regulation of big-tech firms in India and abroad is a complex and evolving challenge that requires careful consideration and concerted action. While regulatory interventions are essential to address anti-competitive practices and safeguard consumer interests, they must be balanced with efforts to foster innovation, promote competition, and ensure a conducive environment for digital growth. By adopting a holistic approach that integrates regulatory oversight, technological innovation, and stakeholder engagement, policymakers can navigate the digital frontier and shape a more equitable and resilient digital future for all.

SOURCE: The Indian Express

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