Policy Wrap: Apple to comply with stringent EU laws and allow alternative app stores on its devices, FTC blocks Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and more
Apple to comply with stringent EU laws and allow alternative app stores on its devices
As part of a comprehensive restructuring intended to meet the stringent rules from the European Union, Apple Inc. is getting ready to allow alternative app stores on its iPhones and iPads.
Sources claim that personnel in software engineering and services are making a significant effort to open up important components of Apple's platforms. With the modifications, buyers may eventually download third-party software directly to their iPhones and iPads, circumventing Apple's restrictions and the 30% commission it charges on purchases.
The measures are a reaction to EU rules intended to level the playing field for third-party developers and enhance customers' digital life. Regulators and software developers have long argued that Apple and Google, the two companies that oversee the two largest mobile app stores, exercise excessive control as gatekeepers.
The primary piece of new European legislation, known as the Digital Markets Act, goes into effect in the coming months, but corporations won't have to abide by all of the regulations until 2024. Similar rules have been pushed for by politicians in the US and other nations, but they haven't yet made as much progress as the EU.
The statute mandates that digital companies permit the installation of third-party apps and make default settings more easily accessible to users. The regulations mandate interoperability between messaging systems and equal access for outside developers to core features within apps and services.
After European Commission’s attempt, FTC jumps on the bandwagon to block Microsoft’s acquisition bid of Activision Blizzard
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed an administrative complaint to prevent technology giant Microsoft from acquiring video game creator Activision Blizzard Inc. (Blizzard) in the $69 billion deal, which would be the biggest ever in the video gaming sector. The complaint was filed by the FTC by a 3-1 vote.
The move comes in response to the European Commission's attempt to block the merger last month.
The acquisition, according to the FTC, would hurt Xbox gaming console rivals and potentially speed up Microsoft's already burgeoning subscription content and cloud-gaming businesses. According to the FTC, Blizzard is one of a very limited group of top video game developers who create and market top-notch games for a variety of devices.
The FTC is concerned that the acquisition will give Microsoft the power to hurt competition by manipulating game prices, lowering game quality or player experience on rival consoles, altering the terms and timing of access to Blizzard's content, or completely withholding content from competitors, harming consumers. This is in contrast to Blizzard's current strategy of offering its games on a variety of devices regardless of producer.
The case also cited Microsoft's previous acquisitions of gaming companies like Bethesda Softworks. According to the agency, despite promising the European antitrust authorities that it had no motive to limit gaming access, Microsoft made numerous Bethesda games, including Starfield and Redfall, exclusive to Microsoft systems.
This is a clear demonstration that Microsoft can and will refuse to give its gaming competitors material. “Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets” Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, Holly Vedova stated in response.
Draft telecom bill to provide clarity over regulations of OTT, DTH
To address concerns raised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and others regarding regulating the content of over-the-top (OTT) apps and broadcasting services like direct-to-home (DTH), the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is likely to release a revised draft of the telecommunications bill in less than a month
It will be made very explicit in the revised draft of the telecom bill that its goal is to exclusively regulate communication applications that gives similar services as telecom providers. This will clear up any ambiguity over the category of apps that the DoT will oversee.
Since there is no defined definition of apps in the current draft, there were worries that the telecom department may regulate all types of apps. The I&B ministry voiced opposition to the current draught bill's inclusion of broadcasting services as a subset of telecommunication services. As per this draft, broadcasting service is defined as a telecommunication service intended to be received by the general public, either directly or indirectly.
According to DoT officials, pertinent clauses will be changed for clarity. The regulated feature of broadcast services—those utilising a telecom network—will be specifically stated in the new bill. DTH and TV channels and other broadcasting services won't be included.
Even though there are no longer any concerns with broadcasting or OTT content, the DoT is still considering the framework for regulating OTT communication apps like WhatsApp and Signal. According to representatives, the government has not yet decided whether these apps would need a licence or only a registration.
Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill draft to provide more clarity on proposed data storage rules
Big social media intermediaries and large multinational technology companies have asked for further clarification on proposed laws governing data storage in other countries.
The new Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill, 2022 draft states that businesses processing Indian citizens' data may store the data in "trusted geographies" that the government may specify from time to time.
Executives from internet intermediaries met with senior Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology officials to seek guarantees that, when decided, data storage regulations won't be "totally dependent" on shifting geopolitics, forcing businesses to relocate their data storage facilities.
As per sources, the corporations also wanted guarantees that their previous data centre investments wouldn't suffer. Additionally, they sought clarification on how the trusted jurisdiction will be determined.
Despite the fact that ministry personnel made no formal commitments, sources claim they gave industry representatives assurances that the norm for data storage in other countries, which would be developed when the DPDP Bill is approved by Parliament, will be based on "common sense."
Startups could potentially contribute up to 4-5% of India’s GDP over the next 3-5 years
According to a survey by StrideOne, the ecosystem in India, which includes over 80,000 registered startups, has the potential to contribute around 4-5% to the GDP of the nation over the next three to five years.
According to the Economic Survey 2021–2022, India has 81,400 registered startups, placing it third in the world's startup ecosystem behind China and the United States.
Compared to the about 20,000 platforms registered in 2021, the report predicts that over 24,500 platforms will be registered in 2022. It indicates that from 2022 to 2027, there would be a projected 25% yearly growth in the registration of new startups.
According to the analysis, job creation by startups is expected to increase at a rate of 24% per year between 2022 and 2027. While startups created roughly 1,92,000 employments in 2017, the report predicts that 2,30,000 new jobs will be created in 2022.
Additionally, it was revealed that deal count increased by 23% within the study's time frame, while total funding raised increased 42% annually. SaaS, fintech, logistics, and autotech attracted the most investment.
The study examines the interactions and contributions to total growth made by startups and major companies in industries like the textile industry, the gig economy, and B2B logistics.
According to the report, over 28% of India's micro, small, and medium-sized firms (MSMEs) rely on startup platforms to find business possibilities. After joining these platforms in 2022, their revenues increased by 29%. The textile industry makes for roughly 2.3% of the country's GDP.
Success rate of startups in India relatively higher than rest of world
Shri Piyush Goyal, the Union Minister for Commerce, stated that the number of startups registered in India has increased from 452 as of November 30, 2016, to 84,012 as of November 30, 2022. This marked an increase of 18,000% over the previous 7 years.
According to the Union Minister, India's startup success rate is comparatively higher than that of the rest of the globe, even though startups in general are more prone to failures. On January 16, 2016, the government unveiled the Startup India programme and a corresponding action plan in an effort to strengthen the startup ecosystem.
The Indian government unveiled a number of initiatives at the event, "We unobstacle," to support the developing startup environment in the nation. This included provisions for a three-year moratorium on labour inspections, a self-certification system, and registration directly through a mobile app.
Additionally, registered startups received a number of advantages, such as a 3-year income tax break, exemption from capital gains tax, and an 80% discount on patent applications.
Most importantly, the government also committed funding support of Rs. 10,000 crore from a number of programmes, including the Credit Guarantee Scheme for Startups (CGSS), Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS), and Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS). These programmes extend support to startups at various stages of their business cycle. The government has so far contributed Rs. 7385 crores to 88 Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs), which have subsequently invested in 720 companies.
The efforts appear to have paid dividends. India boasts of 107 firms with a valuation of $1 billion or more, up from fewer than 10 unicorn startups in 2016.
RBI urges fintechs to work on frameworks for data protection, regulatory compliance
Shaktikanta Das, governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), urged fintechs to pay particular attention to frameworks for governance, corporate conduct, data protection, customer centricity, and regulatory compliance.
Das reaffirmed that the RBI would keep using a participatory and consultative approach to support innovations in the financial sector at a discussion with a select group of fintech companies.
Das emphasised the significance of financial activities and businesses in India “They are playing a transformative role in the financial system through digital innovations and innovative means of delivery of financial services.”
He sought feedback and ideas from the participants to strengthen and expand the role of fintech companies in India's financial ecosystem.
UPI-like platforms could be introduced in logistics, agriculture, education spaces
According to Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw, the minister of Electronics and Information Technology, the government plans to create a number of platforms, such as the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), to expand tech-driven good governance throughout the nation.
The government is collaborating with the National Digital Health Mission to introduce a model like UPI that will be used in a variety of sectors, including logistics, agriculture, and education. He stated that these will be created and democratised so that everyone could use them.
He further explained that the goal was to employ technology in a way that would mimic the achievements of UPI, Jan Dhan bank accounts, and digital Direct Benefit Transfer programmes, among other initiatives.
Utilizing distributive law, the logistics, agricultural, and educational sectors are all expected to experience spectacular growth.
Government could favour a pause in rate hike as focus on growth gains prominence
Policymakers predict a pause in rate hike going forward as the retail inflation slid below the 6% mark. According to officials, there is growing anxiety within the administration about how the global downturn can affect the country's fragile economic recovery, and there is a greater need for support.
Retail inflation dropped below 6% for the first time since December of last year in November, falling more than anticipated to an 11-month low of 5.88%. Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) decreased to a 21-month low of 5.85% in November from 8.39% in October, according to official statistics. The RBI increased the benchmark repo rate last week by 35 basis points (bps), bringing it to 6.25%.
The official stated that there is a rationale for closely monitoring how the most recent policy rate increase plays out and data sets, noting that there is a growing consensus in favour of a pause.
The impact of the slowdown in the developed world have begun to emerge, according to the most recent data, and there are increasing concerns about growth, which calls for a tighter support to the economy.
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