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Policy Wrap: US sues Google over dominance in digital advertising, Changes made by Google in Play Store billing are not in complete sync with CCI rulings, and more
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US Justice Department and 8 states sue Google over dominance in the digital advertising domain
On Tuesday, 8 states and the Justice Department sued Google, alleging that it had illegally abused its monopoly on the technology that powers online advertising.
The lawsuit stated that Google has eliminated or significantly reduced any danger to its dominance over digital advertising technologies by using anticompetitive, discriminatory, and illegal techniques. It also requested the U.S. District Court to order Google to sell much of its suite of advertising technology products, which also includes services for displaying advertisements online and software for purchasing and selling ads. In addition, the lawsuit pleaded with the court to halt the business' purported anticompetitive actions.
According to the lawsuit Google has prevented the free market from functioning fairly to support the interests of the advertisers and publishers who make today's powerful internet possible, thwarted meaningful competition and deterred innovation in the digital advertising industry, taken supra-competitive profits for itself.
The Justice Department requested that the court order Google to sell its AdX ad exchange together with its Google Ad management suite.
This is not the first time that Google has come under the scrutiny in the US. In 2020, a group of states filed an antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant over is practices in the advertising technology domain. In the same year, the Justice Department and another group of states sued Google over allegations that it misused its dominance over online search. Some states also filed lawsuits in 2021 regarding the business's app store policies.
Changes made by Google in Play Store billing are not in complete sync with CCI rulings
On 25th January 2023, Google announced certain changes in the Android ecosystem (applicable only in India). It is mentioned that User choice billing will be available to all apps and games starting next month. Through user choice billing, developers can offer users the option to choose an alternative billing system alongside Google Play’s billing system when purchasing in-app digital content.
However, ‘user choice’ policy as defined earlier, mentions that app developers will still be required to pay Google a commission ranging between 11% or 26%, as applicable; thus an effective reduction of 3-5% only.
It is nothing but Google’s strategy to disincentivize app developers from using alternative payment solutions by ensuring the app developers pay more for not using GPBS. These aspects were argued by the Indian app developers before the CCI which perhaps prompted the CCI to impose the remedy that “Google shall not impose any condition (including price related condition) on app developers, which is unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory or disproportionate to the services provided to the app developers”.
Law commission directs MeitY officials to put the draft online gaming policy on hold
Top Information and Technology (IT) ministry officials have been urged by the Law Commission to postpone implementing a policy on online gaming until it can produce a "comprehensive" report on the subject.
According per reports, the ministry has invited the commission to submit their comments but is unlikely to abandon the draft guidelines.
The commission presided over by Judge Ritu Raj Awasthi, a former chief justice of the Karnataka High Court, has been given special permission to investigate financial losses, youth addiction, and unethical conduct in online gaming. The group is discussing the legal ramifications of internet gaming.
In a letter to senior officials at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the commission requested that they meet and speak with them about the matter and requested to postpone any plans to finalise any draft laws in this aspect for the time being.
The panel also took note of the finance ministry's efforts to finalise new laws or bring about revisions to those already in place that pertain to the industry.
Centre establishes a G20 task force on digital public infrastructure
The government has established a G20 task force on digital public infrastructure to take advantage of India's digital achievements and advance international initiatives for financial inclusion, health, and education.
The task force would produce a thorough map of India's digital infrastructure in the areas of finance, health, education, data, taxation, digital commerce, and mobility. It will also shortlist key infrastructure that may be presented within other G20 tracks for adoption by other nations.
India has already stated that during its G20 presidency, the country will prioritise closing the digital gap, particularly in poor nations, and guaranteeing that more people benefit from digital technologies.
The G20 Task Force on Digital Public Infrastructure for Economic Transformation, Financial Inclusion and Development will assist India in advancing its agenda for the G20 presidency in relation to digital public infrastructure, financial inclusion, digital identity, cutting-edge technology-based services like UPI and governance frameworks.
IIT Madras-incubated firm develops indigenous BharOS Service with tight privacy and security standards
According to the prestigious educational institution, an IIT Madras-incubated company has created an indigenous mobile operating system that can help over 100 crore mobile phone users in India.
This software, known as "BharOS," which can be put on commercially available mobile phones, offers consumers a safe environment.
Currently, BharOS Services are being offered to businesses with tight privacy and security standards, whose employees handle sensitive data that necessitates private interactions using limited mobile apps. These consumers need private 5G networks with access to private cloud services.
Users of BharOS are not compelled to utilise apps they may not be acquainted with or may not trust since BharOS has No Default Apps (NDA). Additionally, this strategy gives users more control over the permissions that apps have access to on their device because they can decide to only give trusted apps access to certain functions or data.
India Stack to be more nuanced, intelligent & sophisticated
As more businesses and nations around the world innovate and integrate, execute, and implement digital transformation, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and IT, has predicted that India Stack will become more nuanced, intelligent, and smart in its next incarnation.
The goal is to increase access to and adoption of India Stack for nations that are eager to do so and to integrate it into their systems in accordance with their needs. It also aims to build a strong ecosystem of startups, developers, and system integrators that will work with it to produce next-generation innovation.
"Our mission as a nation is to offer India Stack or the part of the stack to those enterprises and countries across the world who want to innovate and further integrate, execute, and implement digital transformation," said the Minister.
Government may announce measures in Budget to facilitate a sturdier startup ecosystem
According to official sources, the government is anticipated to announce in the upcoming budget measures to further enhance the startup environment in the nation and fix inverted duty difficulties in several industries to support domestic production.
According to them, the government may consider funding infrastructure projects that have been approved by the Network Planning Group (NPG), which was established as part of the PM Gati Shakti initiative, under the production linked incentive (PLI) plan.
Apart from that, the commerce and industry ministry has also suggested steps to further promote ease of doing business for startups.
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