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Policy Wrap: US administration deems app stores as ‘harmful to consumers and developers’, After Google, Microsoft under the scanner of EU antitrust regulator for Teams platform, and more
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US administration deems app stores as ‘harmful to consumers and developers’ in a veiled accusation at Apple and Google
As President Joe Biden meets with his competition council to receive an update on initiatives to encourage competition and drive down costs, a Commerce Department report that the government is releasing states that mobile app stores are stifling competition.
The current app store model is "harmful to consumers and developers," according to a report from the department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. This is because it drives up prices and discourages innovation. It further states that the corporations have a monopoly on the market that stifles competition.
The policies that Apple and Google have implemented in their respective mobile app stores have put extra costs and impediments in the way of app creators, from access fees to functional limitations that favour some apps over others.
Biden urged Democrats and Republicans to restrain powerful tech companies in a January op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. He claimed that once tech platforms reach a certain size, many find ways to promote their own products while excluding or disadvantage competitors—or charge competitors a fortune to sell on their platform. He further states that their economy allows for fair competition amongst all players, including mom-and-pop shops, small and medium-sized firms, and entrepreneurs.
To increase competition in the app ecosystem, the Commerce Department report stated that new legislation and other antitrust enforcement actions are likely essential.
After Google, Microsoft under the scanner of EU antitrust regulator for Teams platform
Microsoft is the subject of an antitrust investigation by the European Union after the company's cloud-based video chatting and collaboration service, Microsoft Teams was accused of improperly using its market dominance.
Slack, a communications app and one of its main competitors, complained to the EU's antitrust agency in 2020, requesting that Microsoft unbundle Microsoft Teams and other software from its popular Office suite.
The platform has been charged with unlawfully driving out rivals with the help of its market dominance.
The Commission is currently investigating whether Microsoft used its market dominance to bar rival businesses from going up against Teams. The European Commission is also investigating the possibility that Microsoft has unfairly discouraged users from availing other services.
Slack has alleged that Microsoft is utilising its market dominance to offer services at extremely low, or even nil, costs while prohibiting other businesses from going up against their own offerings, according to Slack. Additionally, they assert that Microsoft is preventing rival services from providing competitive services and goods by exerting market control over them.
The European Commission is pursuing the action against Microsoft as part of a larger initiative to address problems with digital platforms and competition. The Commission is also looking into Google currently for allegedly abusing its market dominance.
Three Grievance Appellate Committees created based on the recently amended “IT Rules 2021”
Based on the newly updated Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 ("IT Rules 2021"), the Centre today created 3 grievance appellate committees with 3 members in each of them. An undeniable objective was to ensure the safety and instil confidence in every Digital citizen with a strong system for grievance redressal to assure accountability of all Internet platforms providing a service or good.
A crucial component of the overall policy and legal framework was to guarantee that the Internet in India is Open, Safe, Trusted, and Accountable with the Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC). Numerous complaints that Internet intermediaries failed to address or handled insufficiently led to the necessity for GAC. GAC is tasked with fostering a culture of consumer responsiveness among all Internet platforms and intermediaries. The committee will be a virtual digital platform that only functions online and in the digital form. The whole appeals process—from filing an appeal to receiving a decision—will take place online.
Users will have the option to challenge a decision made by the grievance officer of social media intermediaries and other internet intermediaries before this new appellate body. The Committee will endeavour to respond to the user's appeal within 30 days.
Startup 20 Engagement group to hold 2-day inception meeting in Hyderabad
A two-day initial meeting of the Startup 20 Engagement Group, formed during India's G20 presidency, will take place in Hyderabad starting on Saturday. The G20 consists of both developed and developing countries.
According to G20 sherpa Amitabh Kant, Hyderabad has a culture of innovation and Startup 20 is a significant engagement group. He stated that three distinct tracks comprise Startup20: foundation and alliance, financing, and inclusivity and sustainability.
An official statement released mentions that that Startup20 seeks to develop a worldwide narrative for assisting startups and fostering collaborations among them, corporations, investors, innovation agencies, and other important ecosystem members.
This group's goal is to provide a common forum for startups from G20 members to come together and develop practical advice on topics like enhancing employment opportunities, strengthening enabler capacities, identifying funding gaps, achieving SDG targets, building climate resilience, and developing an inclusive ecosystem.
Key announcements for tech, startups from the 2023 Budget
During her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a number of announcements pertaining to the tech and startup industries, including a reduction in customs duties on the import of specific parts, an expansion of Digilocker's application, AI centres, and a fund for agritech startups, among others.
The FM stated that a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy with sound public finances and a thriving financial sector are all part of the government's goal for the "Amrit Kaal."
For income tax benefits, the government has suggested delaying the date of incorporation of companies by one year, from March 31, 2023 to March 31, 2024.
To encourage youth to become farmers, there is an agriculture accelerator fund. She stated that this fund would be established to support young entrepreneurs starting agritech businesses. The government will also work on the development of digital public infrastructure for the agricultural industry
In addition to this, the scope of Digilocker is being expanded by the government to make more papers accessible to people, small and medium-sized businesses, and nonprofit organisations.
TRAI calls for complete overhaul of existing norms around entertainment apps
A consultation document on the legal, regulatory, licencing, and spectrum management framework to cope with the convergence of carriage of broadcasting services and telecommunication services was released by the telecom and broadcast regulator Trai on Monday. Additionally, it demanded a full revision of the laws governing entertainment apps like Netflix, MX Player, Hotstar, and Prime Videos.
According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the proliferation of OTT (over-the-top) streaming services has made it more difficult to regulate content in the broadcasting industry. It stated that the OTT revolution has left several holes in the policy space for content regulation.
TRAI stated that in a converged period, similar to many other countries, where a converged regulator regulates carriage and content, the existing regulatory supervision system for content regulation, which is uneven and inadequate at its best, may need a total revamp.
According to the regulator, it could be argued that the current fragmented regulatory approach for regulating content may not be sufficient to promote growth of the rapidly evolving content sector, which has a significant employment and export potential. Considering the importance and complexity of the issue, extensive consultations are required.
In order to fully benefit from the convergence, the regulator stated that India needs to get ready to redraw the limits of its administrative and regulatory tasks.
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